OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – SWITZERLAND
GENEVA, 11 JUNE 1998
Experts' meeting on the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention
An experts' meeting on the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention was held at Sarasin Villa, near Geneva, from 9 to 11 June 1998. The meeting chaired by Switzerland brought together Israeli and Palestinian representatives in the presence of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Flavio Cotti, took the opportunity to meet the delegations and express the support of the Swiss government for the ongoing efforts with regard to this important issue.
Bearing in mind several Emergency Session Resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Switzerland, depository of the Geneva Conventions, convened this meeting after having conducted extensive consultations with the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions and in particular with states and organisations concerned.
This meeting was the first part of a package of two measures proposed by Switzerland. The second measure, an experts' meeting of the High Contracting Parties of the Geneva Conventions on problems of the Fourth Geneva Convention (in general, and in particular in occupied territories), will be proposed in the early days of July. It is expected to take place in early autumn 1998.
Parties participating in the meeting held at Sarasin Villa agreed to hold their discussions in camera and to commonly issue the present press release.
Main issues regarding the application of the IVth Geneva Convention have been raised. Significant conceptual differences have emerged concerning the implementation of the IVth Geneva Convention, its relation with the peace process in the Middle East and the security environment.
The discussions have been frank and constructive and have been held in a spirit of respect and understanding. Israeli and Palestinian representatives have agreed to follow the three principles proposed by the Switzerland for meetings on the issue:
- contribute to real improvements in the respect for the international humanitarian law on the ground;
- avoid any politicisation of international humanitarian law, and
- support the peace process in the Middle East.
The parties exchanged views on the feasibility of establishing mechanisms and taking concrete measures to implement the Fourth Geneva Convention. All delegations have reaffirmed that Geneva Conventions are a core value of international law and have to be respected.
With a view to conducting the dialogue, the parties agreed to meet again to take into consideration ideas and suggestions that can foster respect of the Fourth Geneva Convention.