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Switzerland: Geneva to host meeting of legal experts

15-01-1998 News Release 98/02

From 19 to 23 January, Geneva will host an intergovernmental meeting of experts to examine general problems that affect the implementation of international humanitarian law. The meeting will focus in particular on the increasing vulnerability of aid workers in a number of places where there is not only the risk of murder and armed banditry but also the growing threat of hostages being taken from among humanitarian organizations themselves.

Furthermore, the meeting, the first in an ongoing series, will discuss the applicability of the four Geneva Conventions and their two Additional Protocols in the light of contemporary patterns of conflict, in which State authority - a cornerstone of international law - is often weakened if not completely absent.

The idea of periodic meetings on international humanitarian law, to be convened by the Swiss government, stems from the 1993 International Conference for the Protection of War Victims, also held in Geneva. The concept was endorsed by the 26th  International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in December 1995. Attending them will be legal experts and official representatives of all signatory States, plus a number of observer delegations.