Respecting IHL Challenges and Responses

The 36th Round Table on current issues of International Humanitarian Law, jointly organized by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and the International Committee of the Red Cross, took place in Sanremo from 5th to 7th September 2013 and focused on the topic “Respecting IHL: Challenges and Responses”.

The 36th Round Table provided an in-depth discussion on the challenges arising from the need to ensure respect of International Humanitarian Law. The most specific contribution to the current debate on IHL compliance was made by providing an up-to-date overview of the measures that States and other actors may take with a view to promoting respect for IHL before an armed conflict occurs, paying attention in particular to the need for more effective training and dissemination of IHL-related knowledge in order to effectively prevent violations.

Mechanisms for monitoring compliance and for assessing possible violations have also been analyzed, including the use of fact-finding missions and commissions of enquiry, thereby providing an important opportunity to review the state of existing mechanisms during both international and non-international armed conflicts. Some of the legal, political and practical reasons for their inadequate use have been identified and the Round Table has called for future research and discussion on the possible ways forward.

A common thread linking many presentations at the Round Table was the need to include non-state actors both in training and dissemination efforts as well as in the implementation stage.

Speakers also recognized a series of challenges related to the post-conflict phase, and attempted to draw a necessary distinction between the law that continues to apply even after end of the conflict and that which only becomes applicable after the cessation of hostilities. The discussion also highlighted the need to reconcile the desire for peace and the demands of post-conflict justice.