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February 2019

CAJP holds special meeting on International Humanitarian Law with support from Department of International Law

CAJP holds special meeting on International Humanitarian Law with support from Department of International Law

The Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) recently held a new special meeting to explore current issues in International Humanitarian Law, fulfilling a mandate in General Assembly resolution AG/RES. 2926 (XLVIII-O/18). The event was held on Thursday, January 21, 2019, with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs’ Department of International Law (DIL).

Ambassador Leonidas Rosa, Permanent Representative of Honduras to the OAS, presided over the meeting, in his capacity as Chair of the CAJP. At the start of the event, the Department of International Law explained the contributions that those meetings had made toward the thinking on the issue and to the Inter-American Juridical Committee’s (CJI) work in the field of international humanitarian law, covering such topics as “cybersecurity” (currently on its agenda), “cultural property in the event of armed conflicts” (on which the CJI adopted a model law), and “regulating the use of force and the protection of persons in situations of internal violence that do not amount to armed conflict.”

During the event, recent initiatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the region were revealed, among them training for law enforcement personnel and efforts to consolidate National Commissions on International Humanitarian Law.

The member states also made presentations on action taken by the national institutions responsible for implementing international humanitarian law in Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Panama, El Salvador, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. Several delegates noted that this year marks an important milestone – the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions.

Two issues were the subject of particular focus: “Explosive weapons in populated areas” and “New technologies: automatic weapons and hostilities in cyberspace,” for which International Committee of the Red Cross legal advisers Eric Tardif, Andrea Harrison, and Ian Brasure were on hand.

For his part, Professor Duncan Hollis, a member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee and CJI rapporteur for “cybersecurity,” explained that the Committee was seeking information on the OAS member states’ position regarding the application of international law in cyber operations, through a questionnaire those countries are to be sent.

At the end of the meeting, Ambassador Rosa outlined the challenges with current regulations aimed at preventing and punishing violations of international humanitarian law, and the role of national commissions in implementing and promoting it. In that connection, he noted the next regional conference, which will bring the national commissions together in Quito, Ecuador in October this year; and the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, to be held in Geneva from December 9 to 12, 2019.

Finally, the CAJP Chair renewed the invitation to reply to the questionnaire that the Inter-American Juridical Committee would be distributing shortly, concerning the application of international law in cyber operations.

» The report of the special meeting, as well as the agenda, the presentations, and the panelists’ bios are on the website of the Department of International Law, at this link

For further information on this topic, please contact the Department of International Law, OAS Secretariat of Legal Affairs, telephone: + 1 202 370 0741.

» For additional information about the Department, please visit our Website


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