On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the modern Geneva Conventions, the People on War project works towards more respect for the fundamental humanitarian principles and improvement of the humanitarian situation in the world. The center of the project is a worldwide consultation of common people. Civilians and combattants alike will be asked, how they view their experience in war, what basic rules they expect to apply in war, why these rules sometimes break down and what their expectations for the future are. ICRC staff and Red Cross volunteers under the guidance of opinion researchers will conduct the consultation in more than 20 countries.
The consultation will provide the ICRC with a better insight and analysis of today’s humanitarian situation. This will enable the ICRC to better fulfill its task to protect victims of war.
The ICRC will make the consultation as public as the safety of the participants allows. Media will be invited to witness the project, experts and other interested parties will have the opportunity to work with the consultation material.
Through the process and the results of the consultation the ICRC will act as a catalyst for a local and international debate about the humanitarian situation. This debate will involve the traditional actors in the humanitarian arena. Crucially, it will also extend to NGOs, young people and experts to build new constituencies for IHL. The ICRC will contribute its commitment to humanitarian action and humanitarian law, its experience in and analysis of war, its facilitating role in international discussions about IHL, the unrivalled network of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and a new, highly interactive Website as a forum.
With the consultation, the associated debate and related communication activities the ICRC wants to achieve the following specific ambitions:
· collect and present the opinions of people affected by war;
· generate popular support for the concept of limits in war;
· enlarge the constituency of IHL;
· contribute to the humanitarian agenda for the 21st century;
The landmines issue demonstrated the power of the public in forcing better protection of victims of war. The People on War Project underlines the right of common people to be heard and wants to turn their opinion into a force for change in line with the Martens Clause of IHL, that war is limited by the dictates of public conscience.
Ref. LG 1999-022-ENG