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close this bookMeasures Available to States for Fulfilling their Obligation to Ensure Respect for International Humanitarian Law (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1994, 20 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentGeneral remarks
View the documentMeasures to exert diplomatic pressure
View the documentCoercive measures that States may take themselves
View the documentPossible measures of retortion
View the documentPossible unarmed reprisals
View the documentMeasures in cooperation with international organizations
View the documentContribution to humanitarian efforts
View the documentProtecting Powers
View the documentConclusion

Measures to exert diplomatic pressure

Generally speaking, such measures do not pose any problems from the legal point of view. They may take more or less the following five forms:

a) Vigorous and continuous protests lodged by as many Parties as possible with the ambassadors representing the State in question in their respective countries and, conversely, by the representatives of those Parties accredited to the government of the aforementioned State.

b) Public denunciation, by one or more Parties and/or by a particularly influential regional organization, of the violation of international humanitarian law.

One example would be the statement made by the United States to the Security Council on 20 December 1990 concerning the deportation of Palestinian civilians from the occupied territories: “We believe that such deportations are a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention... We strongly urge the Government of Israel to immediately and permanently cease deportations, and to comply fully with the Fourth Geneva Convention in all of the territories it has occupied since June 5, 1967” (S/PV.2970, Part II, 2 January 1991, pp. 52-53). Similarly, resolution 5038/ES, of the Council of the League of Arab States, at its extraordinary session (Cairo, 30-31 August 1990), condemned, in its paragraph 1, “... the violation by Iraqi authorities of the provisions of international humanitarian law relative to the treatment of civilians in the Kuwaiti territory under Iraqi occupation”.

c) Diplomatic pressure on the author of the violation, through intermediaries.

For instance, the steps that were taken by Switzerland to persuade the USSR, China and France to exert pressure upon the Arab States in the Zerka affair of 1970 when three civilian planes were hijacked by Palestinian movements.

d) Referral to the International Fact-Finding Commission (Article 90, Additional Protocol I) by a State with regard to another State, both of which have accepted the competence of the Commission.

In fact, the very assertion, by a State which has declared its acceptance of the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission, of its desire to approach that body, even if the State against which an enquiry is requested has not itself declared its acceptance, might prove a means of inducing the latter to accept the Commission’s competence, at least on an ad hoc basis, and/or to take steps to suppress continuing violations of international humanitarian law. A refusal could be publicly regretted by States.