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Customary IHL study in Russian launched in Moscow

23-11-2006 News Release

A study led by the ICRC identifying 161 rules of customary international humanitarian law (IHL) was launched at a ceremony today in Moscow.

 The following was issued as a press release by the ICRC delegation in Moscow  


Over 65 scholars, professors, state officials and experts from the Russian Federation and CIS countries participated in the regional conference devoted to this study.

" The study shows, " says professor Xavier Philippe, ICRC regional legal advisor, " that customary international humanitarian law has expanded the scope of protection for victims in armed conflict beyond what is provided for in treaty law, such as the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols " .

While treaty law is based on written conventions, customary international humanitarian law derives from the practice of States as expressed, for example, in military manuals, national legislation and official statements. The rules of customary international humanitarian law as well as of treaty law, are binding for the States and other subjects of international law.

ICRC legal staff, experts on various legal systems, academics and specialists from governments and international organizations spent over eight years reviewing the practices of States around the world. This research was performed by six international research teams, fifty national research teams and two ICRC researchers who collected state practice on the basis of ICRC archives related to some thirty recent armed conflicts.

This study, commissioned by the States party to the Geneva Conventions and National Societies during the XXVIth Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 1995, is of great importance: it identifies the essence of international humanitarian law – norms binding all parties to the armed conflict. This unique publication will be of great use for anyone dealing with IHL. It is meant to promote and enrich the debate over this source of international law and strengthen the protection of victims of armed conflicts.

 For further information, please contact:  

 David-Pierre Marquet: (++7 495) 9265426