Geneva Conventions at 70: Changing times, enduring principles.

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time

Location

Location

Lancaster House

Stable Yard

London

SW1A 1BB

United Kingdom

View Map

Event description

Description


The Organising Committee, on behalf of The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, Department for International Development and the British Red Cross, are delighted to invite you to this conference to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. The conference will begin with a keynote speech by Judge Theodor Meron, followed by three panel discussions and concluding with a drinks reception, all at Lancaster House in London.



Programme

Welcome – 2pm

A few words from the conference chair.

Keynote speech

The afternoon will begin with a keynote speech by Judge Theodor Meron, entitled “The Geneva Conventions and the Humanization of the Law of War". A leading figure in international criminal justice, Judge Meron has been a Judge and the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) since the Mechanism’s establishment in 2012. He was also a Judge of the Appeals Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and its president, as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). A leading scholar of international humanitarian law, human rights, and international criminal law, Judge Meron is a member of the Institute of International Law and of the Council on Foreign Relations, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts, and the recipient of numerous awards, honours, and medals including the Legion of Honour. Judge Meron has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, New York University Law School, University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University. In May 2019 he was elected Honorary Visiting Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.

Panel discussions and coffee

A Law for All? Reflections on the universality of the Geneva Conventions

The first panel will explore the restraints against the excesses of war developed by different cultures and how traditional rules of warfare compare to modern IHL. The origins of modern international humanitarian law (IHL) are traced to the early work of what has become the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). In the early 1860s, they encouraged a small group of mostly European governments to agree a set of protections for wounded soldiers and those who care for them. However, the idea of promoting constraints in warfare has much deeper and broader roots, which transcend the immediate milieu of mid-19th century Europe. Many cultures, at various points in their respective histories, have resisted the tempting idea that military victory may be achieved at any cost.

The first panel will be followed by a short coffee break.

States and Status: Non-State Armed Groups and Challenges in IHL Compliance

The Second Panel will focus on such challenges and how these have and could be addressed within the spirit and the relevant rules of the Conventions and Customary IHL. The 1949 Geneva Conventions were adopted, following the Second World War, to address international armed conflicts. Although Common Article 3 included some minimum provisions applicable in situations of non-international armed conflicts, the Conventions’ primary focus was on securing protections in times of war between States. In contrast, contemporary conflicts are now much more likely to be non-international and to include non-State armed groups (NSAGs). These realities raise different challenges, from ensuring compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) by NSAGs, to guaranteeing access for humanitarian relief to civilians in need, to maintaining the distinction between combatants and civilians.

Future Challenges for international humanitarian law: is the law as it stands fit for purpose?

The Third Panel will consider the areas that are set to challenge academics and practitioners of today and tomorrow. Is the current state of the codified law fit for purpose and if not, what would assist? The Panel will explore the challenges of characterising conflicts which use the full spectrum of effects to influence an adversary’s behaviour but where those effects may be un-attributable or may not qualify as a use of force in the traditional sense. In an age where climate change and threats to the environment are at the forefront of the public consciousness and where those issues will only become more acute, the panel will look at the challenges of ensuring the natural environment enjoys protection during armed conflict and whether greater emphasis needs to be put on this aspect of existing legal obligations. Finally, the panel will consider new technologies and their actual or potential use as means and methods of warfare. This will include consideration of the application of IHL to such new technology, and the potential opportunities of new technology to improve respect for IHL, as well as some of the challenges.

We are in the process of confirming panellists and will update the program in due course.

Drinks reception – 6pm

The conference will be followed by a drinks reception in the Music Room at Lancaster House and we would warmly welcome you to join us for that.

Date and Time

Location

Lancaster House

Stable Yard

London

SW1A 1BB

United Kingdom

View Map

Save This Event

Event Saved