• Send page
  • Print page

Strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL): The work of the ICRC and the Swiss government.


Insufficient respect for applicable rules is the principal cause of suffering during armed conflicts. The ICRC and the Swiss government are currently undertaking a major consultation process on how to improve compliance with IHL by developing stronger international mechanisms.

What is this initiative?

The ICRC and the Swiss government are undertaking consultation and research on possible ways to improve compliance with IHL through the establishment of more effective international mechanisms. 

Fact sheet – Initiative on Strengthening Compliance with IHL (also available in Arabic, French, German, Italian and Spanish)

Why the focus on compliance with IHL?

Unfortunately, IHL continues to be violated frequently by both States and non-State armed groups. If IHL was better respected, there would be less suffering. At present, for example, IHL lacks effective means of identifying, preventing and halting violations while they are occurring. The mechanisms within IHL that do exist are rarely, if ever used. Moreover, they are only applicable in international armed conflict, whereas the majority of conflicts are now non-international. 



The consultation process so far

Pursuant to Resolution 1 of the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (2011), the ICRC and the Swiss government are facilitating consultations with States and other relevant actors. This has involved bilateral and multilateral meetings, including: 

Next steps

  • The Fourth Meeting of all States (April 2015) will be complemented by bilateral and other consultations with States and other relevant actors.
  • Taking into account all the consultations between 2012 and 2015, the ICRC will submit to the 32nd International Conference a concluding report presenting options and recommendations for the way forward, together with a draft resolution.

<<  Strengthening legal protection for victims of armed conflict