Tuesday, 15 December 2009

New EU Guidelines on international humanitarian law

The Council of the European Union explains the meaning of international humanitarian law:

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) — also known as the Law of Armed Conflict or the Law of War — is intended to alleviate the effects of armed conflict by protecting those not, or no longer taking part in conflict and by regulating the means and methods of warfare.

The Council sets out the purpose of its new guidelines on IHL:

The purpose of these Guidelines is to set out operational tools for the European Union and its institutions and bodies to promote compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL). They underline the European Union's commitment to promote such compliance in a visible and consistent manner. The Guidelines are addressed to all those taking action within the framework of the European Union to the extent that the matters raised fall within their areas of responsibility and competence. They are complementary to Guidelines and other Common Positions already adopted within the EU in relation to matters such as human rights, torture and the protection of civilians.

The following Guidelines and Common Positions are mentioned in the Council Notice:

EU Guidelines on Human Rights Dialogues (approved by the Council on 13 December 2001, updated on 19 January 2009); Guidelines for EU Policy towards Third Countries on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment (approved by the Council on 9 April 2001, updated on 29 April 2008); EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict (approved by the Council on 8 December 2003, updated on 17 June 2008); EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child (approved by the Council on 10 December 2007); Guidelines on Violence against women and girls combating all forms of discrimination against them (approved by the Council on 8 December 2008) and Council Common Position 2003/444/CFSP of 16 June 2003 on the ICC (OJ L 150, 18.6.2003, p. 67).

New IHL Guidelines

Updated European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL), published in the Official Journal of the European Union 15.12.2009 C 303/12.

The Annex to the Guidelines contains references to the Geneva Conventions and other legal instruments on international humanitarian law (OJEU page 16-17).

Ralf Grahn

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