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The ICRC and the IPU launch a handbook for parliamentarians entitled "Respect for International Humanitarian Law"

11-10-1999 News Release 99/56

As the international community celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are jointly launching today a handbook for parliamentarians entitled "Respect for International Humanitarian Law".  


The outcome of cooperation between the world organisation of parliaments and the organisation charged with promoting respect for the Geneva Conventions, the handbook was produced on the initiative of member parliamentarians of the IPU Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law. As a symbolic gesture, the handbook is being launched in the capital of reunited Germany, where parliamentarians from all over the world, meeting for the 102ndConference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, will discuss the " Contribution of parliaments to ensuring respect for and promoting international humanitarian law on the occasion of the fiftiethanniversary of the Geneva Conventions " from 11 to 15 October.

According to the President of the ICRC, Mr Cornelio Sommaruga, " respecting and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law requires extensive political mobilisation based on both knowledge and a certain know-how. Parliamentarians not only oversee the Executive's action in applying the law but also have the capability and authority to transmit the rules of international humanitarian law to the population and to ensure that the competent institutions, the army and security forces, receive adequate instruction in them " .

The handbook is designed to help parliaments and their members to familiarise themselves with the general principles of international humanitarian law and to learn how they are implemented so that the people's elected representatives can fully discharge their responsibilities in that regard.

According to the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mr Anders B. Johnsson, " the handbook should make political leaders more aware of their key role in securing respect for international humanitarian law and help them to take effective action to that end. Ensuring respect for international humanitarian law is of vital importance. At stake are peace and the well-being of the population - two primary responsibilities of the State and the people's representatives. "