ICRC

logo-1People who’ve actually experienced war place greater value on regulating warfare than those who haven’t.

That appears to be one thought-provoking takeaway from People on War: Perspectives from 16 Countries, a report that the International Committee of the Red Cross released this morning.

More than 17,000 persons – in Afghanistan, China, Colombia, France, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria, Palestine, Russia, South Sudan, Switzerland, Syria (that is, Syrians in Lebanon), Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Yemen – were surveyed between June and September countries2016, “through online, face-to-face and computer-assisted telephone interviews.”

Time and again, persons in conflict-ridden countries showed more support for international humanitarian law:

► Of them, 84% agreed that it was wrong, and not “just part of war,” to “attac[k] religious and historical monuments in order to weaken the enemy” – compared with 72% in other states.

► And 73% in conflict states agreed that it was wrong, and not “just part of war,” to injure or kill humanitarian aid workers delivering aid in conflict zones – compared with 59% in other states.

Also notable were the variation in views on torture:

► Fully 100% in Yemen said torture is wrong and not “part of war.” Percentages dropped from there. Fewer than half the persons interviewed in Israel and Palestine said “wrong”; respectively, 44% and 35%.

► As for the United States, 54% called torture “wrong.” But when the question shifted somewhat – to whether “a captured enemy combatant” can “be tortured to obtain important military information” – the percentage of persons in the United States calling that wrong dropped to 30%, the 3d lowest among countries surveyed.

The survey presented the ICRC with an opportunity to reiterate the existence and importance of laws intended to protect civilians, persons no longer engaging in combat, and persons whom conflict has put to flight. These are issues we explored in our September 23 Georgia Law-ICRC event, “Humanity’s Common Heritage: Conference on the 2016 ICRC Commentary on the 1st Geneva Convention” (posts). On the matter of torture, for example, the report states:

“Torture and all other forms of ill-treatment are absolutely prohibited by international treaty and customary law. This applies to every State and to all parties to armed conflicts. There are no exceptions, whatever the circumstances. Whole communities are impacted by the corrosive effects of torture on society, especially when it goes unpunished, generating hatred and triggering a cycle of violence. What’s more, research shows that torture does not work, as the ‘information’ that is obtained is generally not reliable.”

The full report is available here.

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Humanity’s Common Heritage – norms codified in international humanitarian law treaties to which all countries of the world belong – will be the topic of a conference this Friday, September 23, at the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, Georgia.

The conference title derives from this observation about those treaties, the four 1949 Geneva Conventions, by Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross:

“We know that the values that found expression in the Geneva Conventions have become an essential part of our common heritage of humanity, as growing numbers of people around the world share a moral and legal conviction in them. These contradicting realities challenge us to act: to react to the suffering and violations of the law, and to prevent them from occurring in the first place.”

At the core of this daylong event will be the Commentaries on which the ICRC is now working. Published online earlier this year was the initial Commentary, covering the Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, as well as the articles common to all 4 Conventions. (Prior posts here, here, and here.) Experts will examine this 2016 Commentary and its role in the development, promotion, and implementation of contemporary international humanitarian law.

thumbnail_p1130913We’re honored that the Georgia Law alumnus leading that project, Geneva-based ICRC legal adviser Jean-Marie Henckaerts (LLM 1990), will keynote our conference, and also that the ICRC is cosponsoring the conference, along with our Center and our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law. This student-run review, which celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, will publish papers by the assembled experts and Georgia Law student rapporteurs.

akandeDr. Henckaerts will be part of a public panel from 9:15 a.m.-12 noon in Georgia Law’s Hatton Lovejoy 0042401-14ABCourtroom. Speaking in that morning session will be: Oxford Law Professor Dapo Akande; Emory Law Professor Laurie R. Blank, an IntLawGrrls contributor; Major-General Blaise Cathcart, Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces; New York University Law Professor Ryan Goodman; and the cathcartmoderator, yours truly, Diane Marie ryan_goodman_photo_horizontalAmann, Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law at Georgia Law, and also the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict.

Joining them in closed sessions during the afternoon will be additional international humanitarian law experts experts: Georgia Law Professor Harlan G. Cohen; Houston College of Law Professor Geoffrey S. Corn; American University Law Professor Jennifer Daskal; Jonathan Davis, a University of Georgia international affairs graduates and U.S. Department of State Attorney-Advisor; IntLawGrrl Kathleen A. Doty, our Center’s Director of Global Practice Preparation; Julia Grignon, Université Laval Law; Rutgers Law Professor Adil Haque; Christopher Harland, Legal Adviser at the ICRC’s Washington, D.C., office; Eric Jensen, U.S. Department of Defense; Michael Meier, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps; Naz K. Modirzadeh, Harvard Law; Nicholas W. Mull, U.S. Marine Corps Judge Advocate General Corps (ret.); Vanderbilt Law Professor Michael A. Newton; Sasha Radin, U.S. Naval War College; Professor James K. Reap (JD 1976) of the University of Georgia, who’s just been named to the State Department’s Cultural Property Advisory Committee; IntLawGrrl and Georgia State Law Professor Shana Tabak; and Creighton Law Professor Sean Watts.

Full description and details about the conference here.

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes, the Dean Rusk International Law Center blog)

Honored to be part of the International Committee of the Red Cross launch of its new Commentary on the First Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Field, a volume due for release next Tuesday, March 22.

commentaryMy role begins a week later, with a panel discussion of the new Commentary at 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, and will continue later in the year with an anticipated Georgia Law conference on the same subject (stay tuned).

The March 30 panel discussion will take place in the Columbia Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave N.W., Washington, D.C. That’s the same hotel hosting the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law from March 30 to April 2. This is a side event, though ASIL and its international humanitarian law interest group, the Lieber Society on the Law of Armed Conflict,  are cosponsors of this event, hosted by the ICRC’s D.C.-based Regional Delegation for the US and Canada.

The Commentary is the 1st in a series of volumes intended to update earlier versions, some of which are pictured above: 4 circa-1952 volumes on the 4 Geneva Conventions of 1949, edited by Jean S. Pictet, plus a circa-1987 volume on Additional Protocols I & II of 1977, produced by multiple editors. In the words of the ICRC:

“Since their adoption, the Conventions and Protocols have been put to the test, and there have been significant developments in how they are applied and interpreted. The new Commentaries seek to incorporate these developments and provide an up-to-date interpretation of the law.”

This initial update carries particular significance because it contains commentary on Articles 1, 2, and 3 Common to all 4 Geneva Conventions. Common Article 2 and Common Article 3 have endured significant re-examination in the counterterrorism climate that’s prevailed since the attacks of September 11, 2001, readers of decisions such as Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and a plethora of academic literature well know (and as I’ve written here and elsewhere).

The discussion at the March 30 launch in D.C. will feature:

henckaerts► Dr. Jean-Marie Henckaerts (left), Head of the Commentaries Update Unit at ICRC headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland – and, I’m proud to add, a 1990 LLM alumnus of Georgia Law

► Yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (right), Associate Dean and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law at Georgia Law, and the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict

jackson► Colonel (ret.) Dick Jackson, Special Assistant to the Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War Matters, and Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law

mathesonMichael Matheson, Professorial Lecturer in Law, George Washington University Law School, and former member of the U.N. International Law Commission

RSVPs for March 30 welcome; for that and any other information on that event, contact Tracey Begley, trbegley@icrc.org.