Reference : V-P-CN-E-00047
Date : 25/10/2006
Country/Region : CHINA
Caption : Beijing. Roundtable on Customary International Humanitarian Law.
Photographer : s.n.
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Description : 26-10-2006 Regional news

The ICRC and the Chinese Society of International Law have jointly hosted a regional roundtable to consult governments and legal experts on the findings of the ICRC's historic study on customary international humanitarian law (IHL).

The following was issued as a press release by the ICRC delegation in Beijing on 26 October 2006

The roundtable in Beijing on 25 and 26 October was part of an ongoing worldwide consultation process. Similar events have taken place in Brussels, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Addis Ababa, and the Americas. The roundtable was opened by Professor Zhou Zhonghai, Vice President of the Chinese Society of International Law, and Jean Abt, Member of the ICRC Assembly Council. It was attended by representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Defence and academic institutions from the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia and Myanmar, as well as legal experts from Malaysia, the Philippines and the ICRC.

While treaty law is based on written conventions, customary international humanitarian law derives from the practice of States as expressed, for example, in military manuals, national legislation and official statements. A rule is considered binding customary IHL if it reflects the widespread, representative and uniform practice of States accepted as law.

The 5,000 page Customary IHL study, published in 2005, is the result of over ten years of research and expert consultations by a network of more than 160 governmental and academic experts in over 50 countries. Drawing on national and international sources of practice, the study identifies 161 rules of customary international humanitarian law. It shows that customary IHL expands the scope of protection for victims of armed conflict beyond what is provided for in treaty law, such as the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.

The discussions at the Beijing roundtable addressed various topics covered by the study, including the protection of civilians in times of armed conflict, fundamental judicial guarantees, the regulation of the use of weapons and methods of warfare and the repression of violations of international humanitarian law. The debate showed general consensus among the countries of East Asia on the rules of international humanitarian law now considered customary. This convergence of views is also reflected by the fact that most countries represented at the roundtable are parties to the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977, the thirtieth anniversary of which will be marked in Beijing next year.

The ICRC has begun making full use of the study on customary IHL in the course of its work to protect and assist victims of armed conflict worldwide. Specifically, it has been drawing on the study's findings to remind parties to a conflict of their obligations under IHL.

In 2007, the ICRC Regional Delegation in Beijing plans to publish the Chinese translation of Volume 1 of the study, which contains the 161 rules identified as well as a commentary explaining why they were found to be customary.

Original material : digital
Resolution : 3072x2048
Orientation : landscape
Colour/B&W : colour