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Sixty-fifth session

Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts (Agenda item 82)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/65/100)

This item was included in the agenda of the thirty-seventh session of the General Assembly, in 1982, at the request of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden (A/37/142).

The General Assembly considered the question biennially at its thirty-seventh to sixty-first sessions (resolutions 37/116, 39/77, 41/72, 43/161, 45/38, 47/30, 49/48, 51/155, 53/96, 55/148, 57/14, 59/36 and 61/30).

At its sixty-third session, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session a report on the status of the Additional Protocols relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts, as well as on measures taken to strengthen the existing body of international humanitarian law, inter alia, with respect to its dissemination and full implementation at the national level, based on information received from Member States and the International Committee of the Red Cross (resolution 63/125).

Consideration at the sixty-fifth session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 12th, 13th and 27th meetings, on 15 and 18 October and 5 November 2010.

Statements were made by the representatives of: Belgium (on behalf of the European Union; the Candidate Countries Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Countries of the Stabilization and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia which aligned themselves with the statement), Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Chile (on behalf of the RIO Group), Malawi (on behalf of the African Group), the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Egypt, Monaco, Belarus, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Switzerland, Malaysia, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, Australia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Ghana, Israel, Azerbaijan, Malawi, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Nigeria and Nicaragua. Statements were also made by the observers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC).

Delegations recalled the importance of the Geneva Conventions and the Protocols Additional thereto and stressed the need for those States that have not already done so to ratify the Protocols as well as accede to other relevant instruments.

Some delegations encouraged States to accept the competence of the International Fact-Finding Commission, pursuant to Article 90 of the First Additional Protocol. The need to fully utilize the potential of the Commission was stressed. A reference was made to the Security Council resolution 1894 concerning the possibility of making use of the Commission with regard to gathering information on alleged violations of applicable international law relating to the protection of civilians.

Some speakers welcomed the extension of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) over certain war crimes achieved at the ICC Rome Statute Review Conference in Kampala in 2010.

Some delegations welcomed the entry into force in 2010 of the Convention on cluster munitions. Concern was expressed over the increasing numbers of civilians being targeted in armed conflicts and the need to apply international humanitarian law (IHL) was stressed.

Delegations commended the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on its role in the promotion of IHL and monitoring compliance with it. Some delegations welcomed the ICRC’s updated database of the study on customary IHL. However, some speakers stressed the need to address possible legal gaps relating to the non-international conflicts.

Some speakers welcomed the 2008 Montreux Document elaborated under the leadership of Switzerland and the ICRC to clarify legal obligations and to define good practices relevant to private military and security companies operating in an armed conflict.

Concern was expressed over the increasing numbers of civilians being targeted in armed conflicts and the need to implement international humanitarian law (IHL) was emphasized. Some delegations viewed certain acts of a State, inter alia, affecting the population of the occupied territories, as instances of such violations disregarding, in their opinion, the findings and decisions of the relevant United Nations bodies. A representative of that State, however, highlighted its commitment to IHL and viewed the abovementioned views as unfounded allegations supported by one-sided and politically motivated conclusions by such bodies as the Human Rights Council’s Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Operation.

Some delegations suggested examining the possibility of using a questionnaire or a template to facilitate the submission of relevant information by States.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 27th meeting, on 5 November 2010, the representative of Sweden, on behalf of Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, the Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Zambia, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts” (A/C.6/65/L.15). At the same meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/65/L.15 without a vote. Under this draft resolution, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its sixty-seventh session a report on the status of the Additional Protocols relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts, as well as on measures taken to strengthen the existing body of international humanitarian law, inter alia, with respect to its dissemination and full implementation at the national level, based on information received from Member States and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The General Assembly would, inter alia, encourage Member States and the International Committee of the Red Cross to focus their information to the Secretary-General on new developments and activities during the reporting period; further encourage Member States to explore ways of facilitating the submission of information to future reports of the Secretary-General, and in this context, to consider the convenience of drawing up guidelines or a questionnaire by Member States, where necessary with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross upon the request of Member States, and, as appropriate, in consultation with the Secretariat.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-seventh session (2012).

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A/65/138 - Full texts of replies
Cuba (Original: Spanish) (English)
Cyprus (English)
Czech Republic (2008) (English)
Czech Republic (2010) (English)
Denmark (English)
El Salvador (English)
Germany (2009) (English)
Germany (2010) (English)
ICRC (English)
Iraq (2009) (Original: Arabic) (English)
Iraq (2010) (Original: Arabic) (English)
Ireland (English)
Lithuania (2009) (English)
Lithuania (2010) (English)
Moldova (English)
Qatar (Original: Arabic) (English)
Romania (English)
Russian Federation (Original: Russian) (English)
Spain (Original: Spanish) (English)
Switzerland (Original: French) (English)
Tajikistan (Original: Russian) (English)
Yemen (Original: Arabic) (English)

 

A/65/138/Add.1 - Full texts of replies
Belarus (Original: Russian) (English)
Belgium (Original: French) (English)
Burkina Faso (Original: French) (English)
Chile (Original: Spanish) (English)
Colombia (Original: Spanish) (English)
Finland (English)
Hungary (English)
Jamaica (English)
ICRC (English)
Japan (English)
Lebanon (Original: Arabic) (English)
Mexico (Original: Spanish) (English)
Poland (English)
Qatar (Original: Arabic) (English)
Republic of Korea (English)
Republic of Moldova (Original: Russian) (English)
Slovak (English)
Slovenia (English)
Sudan (English)
Sweden (English)
Turkmenistan (Original: Russian) (English)