31 October 2019
Beyond the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), international humanitarian law (IHL) currently lacks mechanisms to ensure effectively its own compliance.
Such structural flaw has left victims of violations ‘in search of a forum’ and thus prompted a frequent recourse to the more-developed human rights machinery, even if the opportuneness of this tendency has long been – and remains – debated in both intergovernmental and scholarly forums.
‘Issues at stake include the fact that debates on IHL within human rights mechanisms have been criticized for being politicized and applying double standards; for misapplying and/or weakening IHL because of unrealistic requirements; for being unable to address non-State armed groups, which are bound by IHL; for antagonizing important stakeholders such as armed forces; or for weakening the human rights standards whose threshold is higher than that of IHL’ explains Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
Our new working paper Implementing International Humanitarian Law through Human Rights Mechanisms: Opportunity or Utopia? provides an overview of this trend, derives provisional lessons-learned on the opportuneness of human rights bodies dealing with IHL and examines issues that would deserve further academic and/or practical examination.
‘This paper does not pass any judgement on this trend – a trend so entrenched that would, in any case, prove hard to pause – but aims at contributing to its dispassionate assessment’ explains Emilie Max, Researcher at the Geneva Academy and author of the paper.
After a reminder on mechanisms established by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional Protocols of 1977, the paper summarily frames the relationship between IHL and international human rights law and assess the competence and practice of political mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well as of universal and regional treaty-based mechanisms.
Bringing academics and practitioners, the colloquium will notably discuss whether and how human rights mechanisms can contribute to the implementation of IHL without lowering the protection afforded by international human rights law or weakening the credibility of IHL. These are particularly relevant questions this year, the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.
Joshua Niyo received a one-year Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) Doc.Mobility grant to spend a year at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law as Visiting Researcher.
Dr Amna Nazir is a Lecturer in Law and Associate Director of the Centre for Human Rights at Birmingham City University. She also holds an Editorship at Harvard Law School’s Program in Islamic Law. She just started as Visiting Fellow at the Geneva Academy, working remotely from Birmingham, and will stay with us until the end of March 2021.
Join us for our open house to learn more about this part-time programme designed professionals, meet staff, students and alumni, and discuss career opportunities.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.
This research project examined the impact of innovation and the development of new information technologies on human rights.
We are a partner of the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project, housed at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre, which aims to map and analyse the human rights challenges and opportunities presented by the use of big data and associated technologies. It notably examines whether fundamental human rights concepts and approaches need to be updated and adapted to meet the new realities of the digital age.