International Humanitarian Law and the United Nations Security Council

Completed in December 2021

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.

This project – carried out by Emilie Max – aimed at critically assessing how the UNSC has recently dealt with IHL.

NEWS

UNMISS Peacekeepers News

New Working Paper Examines the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL

5 October 2021

The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL examines the applicability of article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 – on the obligation to respect and ensure respect for IHL – to the UN, with a specific focus on peacekeeping operations.

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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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OUTPUT

An Assessment of the UN Security Council's Engagement with IHL

The publication Room for Manoeuvre? Promoting International Humanitarian Law and Accountability While at the United Nations Security Council: A Reflection on the Role of Elected Members assesses the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) recent engagement with international humanitarian law (IHL) in relation to the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict agenda, other relevant thematic agenda items (Children and Armed Conflict and Women, Peace and Security, respectively), as well as counterterrorism measures and sanctions regimes.

The publication offers a set of guiding questions, framed in very general terms, to ensure and develop a principled IHL engagement in the formulation of policies at the UNSC. It was launched both in Geneva and New York during an online IHL Talk that addressed the substantial and/or procedural challenges to the effective and principled promotion of IHL at the UNSC, including from a State’s perspective.

Detailing the Role of UN Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL

The Working Paper The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL examines the applicability of article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 – on the obligation to respect and ensure respect for IHL – to the UN, with a specific focus on peacekeeping operations.

In doing so, it examines how modern peacekeeping operations with multidimensional mandates engage in activities aimed at – or amounting to – promoting compliance with IHL, including in relation to the UNSC  thematic agenda items – namely Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict; Women, Peace and Security; and Children in Armed Conflict.

Publications

Cover of the publication

The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL

October 2021

Emilie Max

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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Cover page of the Briefing

Briefing No°17: 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

Emilie Max

The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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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

Professor Marco Sassoli during an IHL class at the Geneva Academy News

Geneva Academy Professor presents to OSCE Member States Report on Violations of IHL in the Armed Conflict in Ukraine

13 April 2022

Professor Sassòli was in charge of the IHL part of the report that was presented on 13 April by the three experts to the OSCE Permanent Council. 

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Eliska Mockova with colleagues from the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Urkaine News

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

27 January 2022

Eliška Mocková graduated from our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in 2019 and currently works for the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, in one of its field offices.

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Logo of the Atlas Network Event

Women's Perspectives on a Career in International Law

6 July 2022, 13:00-14:30

In this online event co-organized with the ATLAS Network, prominent women in international law will share their experience and advice through an interactive discussion.

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Syria, destroyed building and ambulance Short Course

Basic Principles of International Humanitarian Law

Fall 2022

This short course examines the sources of international humanitarian law and provides an introduction to its key principles and terminology.

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

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Completed in April 2019

This project examined how IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the UN Charter, as well as from universal and regional treaties.

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On the screen, on the screen is Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), briefing the Security Council on the 70th Anniversary of Geneva Conventions. Project

International Humanitarian Law and the United Nations Security Council

Completed in January 2020

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Cover of the Publication Publication

The Future Digital Battlefield and Challenges for Humanitarian Protection: A Primer

published on April 2022

Henning Lahmann

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