Global humanitarian laws being ignored, says ICRC Nepal

Kathmandu, June 7:

The painful humanitarian consequences of the decade-long armed conflict in Nepal clearly show the weak implementation of international law instruments, the head of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Nepal, said today.

Mary Werntz, the ICRC head in Nepal, stated this today on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the addition of Protocols I and II to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

The ICRC stated that it would highlight the importance of these landmark treaties through a series of special events. The Additional Protocols provide a crucial legal framework for the protection of civilians in armed conflict. However, they remain as relevant in conflicts today as when they were adopted 30 years ago, a statement issued by ICRC said.

At present, 167 countries, including Nepal, are party to Additional Protocol I and 163 countries to Additional Protocol II. This makes the 1977 Additional Protocols among the most widely accepted legal instruments in the world. In Nepal, the newly established National Commission on International Humanitarian Law will examine the protocols as one of their first tasks.

It should be noted that the 1977 Additional Protocols were drawn up essentially as a response to the increased suffering of civilians in armed conflicts.

The two protocols introduced essential rules relating to the conduct of hostilities and the methods and means of warfare, with an aim to strengthen protection for civilians. They formulate the important principle of distinction between civilians and combatants and between civilian and military objectives.

Nepal is a party to six of the major international human rights treaties, including the International Cove-nant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. As a party to the treaties, it is obliged to adhere to laws as set out in these instruments.