Report of the Expert Meeting on Multinational peace operations.
30-10-2004 Publication Ref. 0912
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Applicability of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law to UN Mandated Forces. An expert meeting was organized in December 2003 by the ICRC and the Geneva-based University Centre for International Humanitarian Law. The discussions focused specifically on multinational forces acting on the basis of a UN mandate, under either UN, national or regional command. A complete report is now available to download.
The applicability of international humanitarian law and international human rights law to UN mandated forces entails a number of questions that are still open to debate. These were discussed by a panel of academic experts, military legal advisors, representatives of international organisations and ICRC lawyers.
The meeting was divided into three sessions. Two were devoted to the applicability of international humanitarian law, and one to the applicability of international human rights law.
Applicability of international humanitarian law
During the meeting, the experts discussed under what circumstances UN mandated forces may become a party to a conflict and what rules of international humanitarian law contingents are bound to respect. International instruments such as the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, have introduced elements that were considered.
With regard to forces under UN command and control, issues linked to the application of the Secretary-General's Bulletin on the observance by United Nations forces of international humanitarian law were also reviewed.
Another topic that was debated during the expert meeting is whether the law of occupation could apply to a multinational force that deploys on a territory pursuant to a UN mandate, but without the consent of the State concerned. Whilst the applicability of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention has seldom been recognized in the framework of an operation acting pursuant to a UN mandate, its provisions are sometimes de facto referred to by the multinational forces. Therefore, issues r elated to the de facto use of the law of occupation were also discussed.
"Beyond IHL": Aspects of the applicability of international human rights law
In the absence of armed confrontation or a situation of occupation, multinational forces can find themselves in a context where international humanitarian law is not - or is no longer - applicable. In this case only international human rights law, as well as the laws and regulations of the country where the force is deployed, continue to apply.
The implementation of international human rights law in contexts where multinational forces are in control of a territory has sometimes proven difficult in practice. One reason stems from the fact that the framework of international human rights law is designed for States. The evolution that saw the mandate of peace operations shift from providing assistance and support to directly exercising varying levels of control on a territory has created new challenges. The special issues raised by the setting up of international interim administrations in Kosovo and Timor was also considered.
- A summary report of the debates is available in the International Review of the Red Cross No 853.