International Humanitarian Law and the United Nations Security Council

Started in January 2020

The past few years have seen an increase in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)’s focus on international humanitarian law (IHL), a trend that started before and goes beyond the 2019 commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. In 2019, the UNSC notably adopted resolutions on missing persons in armed conflict, as well as on the situation of persons with disabilities in armed conflict and humanitarian emergencies (resolutions 2474 and 2475, respectively).

However, contrary to other thematic issues such as the rule of law or individual criminal accountability, little attention has been paid to the consistency – or lack thereof – of the UNSC’s practice in relation to IHL.

Objectives

Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews – to the extent feasible – with experts (scholars, diplomats, as well as representatives of the United Nations (UN), NGOs, and relevant international organizations), this project aims at critically assessing how the UNSC has recently dealt with IHL.

Activities

The project’s work has so far been divided into two phases, each corresponding to the calendar years 2020 and 2021.

  • Drawing from the UNSC’s recent practice as well as from identifiable legal and/or political dynamics, the work undertaken in 2020 particularly focused on the potential positive influence of the organ’s elected members (the so-called ‘E10’). It notably formulated recommendations to policy-makers working with this organ to ensure consistency in addressing IHL issues.
  • The work undertaken in 2021 aims at assessing whether – and, if so, how – mandating UN peacekeeping operations contributes to ensuring respect for IHL in the sense of article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It will notably highlight elements worth considering by members of the UNSC who contemplate using peacekeeping for promoting respect for this legal framework.

RESEARCHERS

Portrait of Emilie Max

Émilie Max

Researcher

Émilie Max's research focuses s on the intersection between international humanitarian law and international human rights law

Publications

Cover page of the Briefing

Room for Manoeuvre? Promoting International Humanitarian Law and Accountability While at the United Nations Security Council: A Reflection on the Role of Elected Members

October 2020

Émilie Max

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

A view of the UN Security Council News

New Briefing Examines the Promotion of IHL at the UN Security Council

12 November 2020

Our new Briefing assesses the UN Security Council’s recent engagement with international humanitarian law and accountability.

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A man enters the room of the UN Security Council News

New Research Project Focuses on How the United Nations Security Council deals with IHL

2 April 2020

This research will analyse how the UN Security Council has recently dealt with international humanitarian law (IHL) and formulate a series of recommendations to policy-makers working with this organ to ensure consistency in addressing IHL issues.

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Past Events

Sisyphean Task: Promoting International Law while at the United Nations Security Council

28 January 2021, 15:00-16:30

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Portrait of Joshua Niyo News

Our Teaching Assistant Joshua Niyo Moves to UCLA School of Law to Finalize his Doctoral Research

24 February 2021

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.

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Portrait of Serhat Öztürk News

LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: What our Alumni Say

26 January 2021

Serhat Öztürk graduated from our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in October 2020. He is now working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey. In this interview, he tells about the programme and what it brought to his career.

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Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts

17 March - 8 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the protection offered by international humanitarian law (IHL) in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) and addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.

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An aerial view of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which have appeared following latest attacks by M23 rebels and other armed groups in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Short Course

International Refugee Law

9 March - 13 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.

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Computer screen with warning: civilian infrastucture: do not attack Project

Digitalization of Conflict Joint Initiative: Humanitarian Impact and Legal Protection

Started in September 2020

This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.

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A session of the UN Human Rights Committtee at Palais Wilson Project

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Started in April 2019

Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.

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Cover page of the book Publication

War

published on July 2021

Andrew Clapham

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