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close this bookAction by the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Event of Breaches of International Humanitarian Law (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1981, 9 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the document1. Action taken by the ICRC on its own initiative
View the document2. Reception and transmission of complaints
View the document3. Requests for inquiries
View the document4. Requests to take note of violations
View the documentGUIDELINES IN THE EVENT OF BREACHES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

GUIDELINES IN THE EVENT OF BREACHES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW

1. Steps taken by the ICRC on its own initiative

General rule

The ICRC shall take all appropriate steps to put an end to violations of international humanitarian law or to prevent the occurrence of such violations. These steps may be taken at various levels according to the gravity of the breaches involved. However, they are subject to the following conditions:

Confidential character of steps taken

In principle these steps will remain confidential.

Publics statements

The ICRC reserves the right to make public statements concerning violations of international humanitarian law if the following conditions are fulfilled:

- the violations are major and repeated;

- the steps taken confidentially have not succeeded in putting an end to the violations;

- such publicity is in the interest of the persons or populations affected or threatened;

- the ICRC delegates have witnessed the violations with their own eyes, or the existence and extent of those breaches were established by reliable and verifiable sources.

Special rule

The ICRC does not as a rule express any views on the use of arms or methods of warfare. It may, however, take steps and, if need be, make a public statement if it considers that the use or the threat to make use of a weapon or method of warfare gives rise to an exceptionnally grave situation.

2. Reception and transmission of complaints

Legal basis

In conformity with article 6 (4) of the Statutes of the International Red Cross, the ICRC is entitled to take cognizance of “complaints regarding alleged breaches of the humanitarian Conventions”.

Complaints from a party to a conflict or from the National Society of a party to a conflict

The ICRC shall not transmit to a party to a conflict (or to its National Red Cross or Red Crescent Society) the complaints raised by another party to that conflict (or by its National Society) unless there is no other means of communication and, consequently, a neutral intermediary is required between them.

Complaints from third parties

Complaints from third parties (governments. National Societies, governmental or non-governmental organizations, individual persons) shall not be transmitted.

If the ICRC has already taken action concerning a complaint it shall inform the complainant inasmuch as it is possible to do so. If no action has been taken, the ICRC may take the complaint into consideration in its subsequent steps, provided that the violation has been recorded by its delegates or is common knowledge, and insofar as it is advisable in the interest of the victims.

The authors of such complaints may be invited to submit them directly to the parties in conflict.

Publicity given to complaints received

As a general rule the ICRC does not make public the complaints it receives. It may publicly confirm the receipt of a complaint if it concerns events of common knowledge and, if it deems it useful, it may restate its policy on the subject.

3. Requests for inquiries

The ICRC can only take part in an inquiry procedure if so required under the terms of a treaty or of an ad hoc agreement by all the parties concerned. It never sets itself up, however, as a commission of inquiry and limits itself to selecting, from outside the institution, persons qualified to take part in such a commission.

The ICRC shall moreover not take part in an inquiry procedure if the procedure does not offer a full guarantee of impartiality and does not provide the parties with means to defend their case. The ICRC must also receive an assurance that no public communications on an inquiry request or on the inquiry itself shall be made without its consent.

As a rule, the ICRC shall only take part in the setting up of a commission of inquiry, under the above-stated conditions, if the inquiry is concerned with infringements of the Geneva Conventions or of their 1977 Protocols. It shall on no account participate in the organization of a commission if to do so would hinder or prevent it from carrying out its traditional activities for the victims of armed conflicts, or if there is a risk of jeopardizing its reputation of impartiality and neutrality.

4. Requests to record violations

If the ICRC is asked to record the result of a violation of international humanitarian law, it shall only do so if it considers that the presence of its delegates will facilitate the discharge of its humanitarian tasks, especially if it is necessary to assess victims’ requirements in order to be able to help them. Moreover, the ICRC shall only send a delegation to the scene of the violation if it has received an assurance that its presence will not be used to political ends.

The International Review of the Red Cross is the official publication of the International Committee of the Red Cross. It was first published in 1869 under the title “Bulletin international des Socis de secours aux militaires blesses”, and then “Bulletin international des Socis de la Croix-Rouge”.

The International Review of the Red Cross is a forum for reflection and comment and serves as a reference work on the mission and guiding principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It is also a specialized journal in the field of international humanitarian law and other aspects of humanitarian endeavour.

As a chronicle of the international activities of the Movement and a record of events, the International Review of the Red Cross is a constant source of information and maintains a link between the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The International Review of the Red Cross is published every two months, in four main editions:

French:. REVUE INTERNATIONALE DE LA CROIX-ROUGE (since October 1869)
English: INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF THE RED CROSS (since April 1961)
Spanish: REVISTA INTERNACIONAL DE LA CRUZ ROJA (since January 1976)
Arabic


: (since May June 1988)

Selected articles from the main editions have also been published in German under the title Ausz> since January 1950.

EDITOR:

Jacques Meurant, D. Pol. Sci.

ADDRESS:

International Review of the Red Cross 19, avenue de la Paix 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

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one year, 30 Swiss francs or US$ 18 single copy, 5 Swiss francs

Postal cheque account No. 12 - 1767-1 Geneva

Bank account No. 129.986.0, Swiss Bank Corporation, Geneva

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, together with the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, form the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The ICRC, which gave rise to the Movement, is an independent humanitarian institution. As a neutral intermediary in the event of armed conflict or unrest it endeavours, on its own initiative or on the basis of the Geneva Conventions, to bring protection and assistance to the victims of international and non-international armed conflict and internal disturbances and tension.