Intergovernmental Process on Strengthening Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL)


The 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent of December 2015 recognized the imperative need to improve compliance with IHL and mandated Switzerland, together with the ICRC, to facilitate an “intergovernmental process to find agreement on features and functions of a potential forum of States and to find ways to enhance the implementation of IHL using the potential of the International Conference and IHL regional forums”. As in the previous phase of the project (01.09.2016 to 31.07.2017), Switzerland, jointly with the ICRC, will continue to organize and facilitate negotiation meetings in Geneva, open to all States, with a view to strengthening the international system for reinforcing respect for IHL.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Switzerland
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Protection, access & security
01.08.2017 - 31.07.2018
CHF 160'000
Background

There is a large agreement that IHL continues to provide an adequate legal framework to regulate the conduct of parties to armed conflicts. However, more efforts are needed to strengthen respect for the law. Switzerland and the ICRC have jointly consulted States on possible ways and means of strengthening respect for IHL between 2012 and 2015. A large majority of States expressed support for establishing a forum of States on IHL, given that there is currently no institutional forum for States to discuss challenges to the implementation of IHL.

At the 32nd International Red Cross / Red Crescent Conference, States agreed to enter into negotiations on the features and functions of such a forum. They also committed to further explore ways of making better use of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent as well as regional forums to enhance the implementation of IHL. This process is currently the most important and promising multilateral avenue for strengthening the current system for reinforcing respect for IHL.

Objectives Strengthening the international system to reinforce the implementation of IHL notably by enhanced dialogue and cooperation among States.
Target groups
  • All States Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (196 States Parties);
  • Components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (including National Societies);
  • Interested International and Regional Organizations.
Medium-term outcomes
  • Continuation of sustained discussion among States on strengthening respect for IHL, including on the possible benefits of a potential forum;
  • Elaborate concrete proposals of making better use of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent as well as regional forums to enhance the implementation of IHL in an open dialogue with States.
Results

Expected results:  

  • Two formal meetings and several informal meetings among States Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 in Geneva;
  • Background Documents for these meetings;
  • Chairs’ Conclusions of these meetings.


Results from previous phases:   The first phase of the intergovernmental process was held from summer 2016 to summer 2017. While States continued to underline the imperative need to improve compliance with IHL, scepticism against creating a new forum has incerased. Further discussions will focus more strongly, as already foreseen in the work plan established in late 2016, on other measures aimed at increasing dialogue and cooperation on IHL.


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
Other International Organization
  • International Committee of the Red Cross


Coordination with other projects and actors
  • Follow-up to World Humanitarian Summit of the United Nations (Istanbul, 23-24 May 2016);
  • ICRC Initiative on Strengthening Legal Protection for Persons Deprived of their Liberty in Non-International Armed Conflict.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   160'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   88'045