Open lecture

How Can the Respect of International Humanitarian Law be Improved

4 жовтня



Marco Sassòli, professor of international law at the University of Geneva Switzerland and associate professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada



During the lecture the following issues will be discussed with students:

  • The crisis of the international community and of international law
  • The substance of IHL is largely adequate for contemporary armed conflicts
  • Progress has been made in terms of prevention and (at least in terms of law and of mechanisms) repression
  • Respect for IHL during armed conflicts is insufficient
    • Existing mechanisms might be sufficient, if they functioned properly
    • New mechanisms will currently not be created; Mechanisms of other branches may therefore fill the gap
    • The challenge of armed groups
  • Role of the ICRC
    • Continues to work as a humanitarian organization
    • Its priorities are access and therefore dialogue
    • The difference between the ICRC’s operational role and its advocacy for the respect of IHL, its development and the development of new enforcement mechanisms
  • The obligation of all States to ensure respect (Article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions)
  • Prevention remains the most promising avenue
    • The earlier it is made the easier it is
      • But the message must be that it is about the respect of the enemy
      • In conflict, teach about your obligations, not about your rights
    • Some obstacles:
      • The selective perception of violations
      • The widening gap between promises and perceived reality
        • The law increasingly promises protection and respect
        • The perceived reality is increasingly dominated by deliberate, widespread and systematic violations
        • Consequences of the credibility gap
        • How to reduce the credibility gap?
          • Stop deconstructing IHL if you don’t have a better proposal
          • Obtain better respect
          • Nuance promises
          • Demonstrate that IHL is often respected