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Sixty-seventh session

Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts (Agenda item 80)

Summary of work

Background (source: A/67/100)

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-third 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, 61/30 and 63/125).

At its sixty-fifth session, the General Assembly requested 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, including 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 65/29).

 
Consideration at the sixty-seventh session

The Sixth Committee considered the item at its 15th, 24th and 25th meetings, on 22 October and 9 and 16 November 2012 (see A/C.6/67/SR.15, 24 and 25).

Statements were made by the representatives of: Chile (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia), Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), the European Union (also on behalf of its Member States; the Acceding Country Croatia, the Candidate Countries of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Iceland and Serbia, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia who aligned themselves with this statement), Switzerland, Peru, El Salvador, the Sudan, Cuba, Belarus, the Philippines, Malaysia, the United States of America, South Africa, Israel, Benin, the Russian Federation, Argentina, Niger and the Syrian Arab Republic. Statements were also made by the observers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission. Statements were made by Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic in the exercise of the right of reply.

Delegations recalled the importance of the Geneva Conventions and the Protocols Additional thereto, stressed the need for those States that have not already done so to ratify the Protocols as well as accede to other relevant instruments and to comply with their norms. A reference was made to the joint initiative launched by Switzerland and the ICRC to identify concrete ways to strengthen the application of international humanitarian law (IHL) and all States were encouraged to implement the Action plan adopted by the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 2011.

The need to ensure that the law of armed conflict is capable of meeting the challenges of asymmetric warfare was stressed. A view was expressed cautioning against double standards in the implementation of IHL.

Some delegations encouraged States to accept the competence of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, pursuant to Article 90 of the First Additional Protocol.

Some delegations stressed the important role played by the International Criminal Court and international criminal tribunals in promoting respect for IHL. Some delegations welcomed the extension of the Court’s jurisdiction over certain war crimes achieved at the Rome Statute Review Conference in Kampala in 2010 and stressed the need to ratify the corresponding amendments to the Statute.

Some delegations welcomed the entry into force in 2010 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and encouraged States to accede to it. Concern was expressed over the increasing numbers of civilians being targeted in armed conflicts and the need to apply IHL was stressed.

Delegations commended the 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. Some delegations encouraged the ICRC to further integrate sustainable development into its humanitarian work.

Some delegations spoke in favour of further efforts to clarify legal obligations and to define good practices relevant to private military and security companies operating in an armed conflict. Plans of Switzerland to organize, in cooperation with the ICRC, a conference on this issue in 2013 were announced.

Some delegations spoke in favour of examining the possibility of using a questionnaire/guidelines or a template to facilitate the submission of relevant information by States.

A view was expressed indicating the ICRC’s readiness to assist in improving the reporting procedures which may include the possibility of using a questionnaire or guidelines to facilitate the submission of relevant information by States.

A view was expressed reiterating the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission appeal to States to fully utilize its potential in investigating IHL violations.

Action taken by the Sixth Committee

At the 24th meeting, on 9 November 2012, the representative of Sweden, on behalf of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 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.6/67/L.14). Subsequently, Nigeria and Ukraine joined in sponsoring the draft resolution.

At the 25th meeting, the Committee adopted draft resolution A/C.6/67/L.14 without a vote. The representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic and Egypt made statements in explanation of positions after the adoption of the draft resolution.

Under this draft resolution, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its sixty-ninth 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 IHL, inter alia, with respect to its dissemination and full implementation at the national level, based on information received from Member States and the ICRC. The General Assembly would, inter alia, encourage Member States and the ICRC 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 using a questionnaire to be drafted by Member States, with the assistance of the ICRC, and, as appropriate, in consultation with the Secretariat, for submission to the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly.

This agenda item was subsequently considered at the sixty-ninth session (2014).

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A/67/182 - Full texts of replies
Nicaragua (Original: Spanish) (English)
Paraguay (Original: Spanish) (English)
Peru (Original: Spanish) (English)
United Kingdom (English)
Syrian Arab Republic (Original: Arabic) (English)
Colombia (Original: Spanish) (English)
Kenya (English)
Lebanon (Original: Arabic) (English)
Spain (Original: Spanish)(English)
Madagascar (Original: French)(English)
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Original: French)(English)
El Salvador (Original: Spanish)(English)
Austria (English)
Oman (Original: Arabic/English)
Greece (English)
Republic of Poland (English)
Finland (English)
Republic of Lithuania (English)
ICRC (English)

A/67/182/Add.1 - Full texts of replies

Switzerland (Original: French) (English)
France (Original: French) (English)
Togo (Original: French) (English)
Slovenia (English)
Sweden (English)
Mexico (Original: Spanish) (English)
Madagascar (Original: French) (English)
Belgium (Original: French) (English)
ICRC (English)