Monday, August 16, 2010

Customary International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Database

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced the creation and launch of a new database, the Customary IHL database, to mark the 12 August anniversary of Geneva Conventions.

Developed in association with the British Red Cross, the database is designed to be used as a legal reference international and non-international armed conflicts, including by courts, tribunals and international organizations. As one of the principal sources of international humanitarian law, customary law enhances the legal protection of victims of armed conflict.

Customary international humanitarian law is a set of unwritten rules derived from a general, or common, practice which is regarded as law. It is the basic standard of conduct in armed conflict accepted by the world community and is universally applicable. In contract to treaty law, it is not necessary for a State to formally accept a rule of custom in order to be bound by it, as long as the overall State practice on which the rule is based is widespread, representative and virtually uniform.

The new customary international humanitarian law database features 50 percent more content than the original study .... Divided into two parts, the first includes 161 rules which the original study assessed to be of customary nature. The second part contains the practice on which the conclusions in part one are based. The database offers practitioners and academics easy access to the rules of customary international humanitarian law identified in the ICRC study and gives the, the opportunity to investigate underlying practice by means of three search parameters: subject matter, type of practice, and country.

Rules can be viewed by chapter or rule, and practice can be viewed by chapter, rule, or country. Basic as well as advanced searches are both available. Among the listed sources of law are: Treaties, Other Instruments, Military Manuals, National legislation, National case-law, Other national practice, United Nations, Other international organizations, International conferences, International and Mixed Judicial and Quasi-judicial bodies, International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, and others.

1 comment:

  1. A very persuasive case can be made that, by refusing to fully comply with US Government requests to excavate for hundreds of US Army Air Force crew remains at recently discovered crash sites in India, the Government of India has violated basic principles of customary international humanitarian law. Swiss international law scholar Anna Petrig cites these rules of customary humanitarian law governing the remains of war dead, in her 2009 article "The War Dead and their Gravesites" in the International Review of the Red Cross: "The rules specifically dealing with mortal remains and gravesites are the following: – Rule 112.Whenever circumstances permit, and particularly after an engagement, each party to the conflict must,without delay, take all possible measures to search for, collect and evacuate the dead without adverse distinction. [International and Non-International Armed Conflicts]– Rule 113. Each party to the conflict must take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being despoiled. Mutilation of dead bodies is prohibited. [International and Non-International Armed Conflicts]– Rule 114. Parties to the conflict must endeavour to facilitate the return of the remains of the deceased upon request of the party to which they belong or upon the request of their next of kin. They must return their personal effects to them.[International Armed Conflicts]– Rule 115. The dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained. [International and Non-International Armed Conflicts] – Rule 116. With a view to the identification of the dead, each party to the conflict must record all available information prior to disposal and mark the location of the graves. [International and Non-International Armed Conflicts]."