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The effects of international law on the domestic legal order of the various countries of the world are manifold and so are the issues covered in this bibliography. In some countries, some international treaties or treaty provisions can be invoked before and applied by national judges. These are the so-called self-executing treaties or treaty provisions. Whether treaties are self-executing is a domestic legal question for national judges to decide on an ad hoc basis. In other countries, no treaty can be applied by a national judge unless it has been transformed into national legislation by an act of the national legislature. The concept of self-executing treaties has much less significance in these countries. This difference relates to two theories of international law known as monism and dualism. Under these theories, the international and domestic legal order are considered as one indivisible hierarchy or as two separate hierarchies respectively.
The treaties establishing the European Communities (“EC”) are virtually silent on the protection of human rights. Some earlier, more ambitious plans for European integration, the European Defense Community and the draft Statute of a European Political Community, dealt with the issue to some extent. However, these plans had failed and the EC founding fathers wanted to confine the treaty to the bare necessities of an economic community. They probably also thought that as the scope of Community law was essentially limited to economic and technical issues, human rights problems would not occur. Judicial practice would prove the contrary.
Since their publication in the 1950s and 1980s respectively, the Commentaries on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 have become a major reference for the application and interpretation of those treaties. The International Committee of the Red Cross, together with a team of renowned experts, is currently updating these Commentaries in order to document developments and provide up-to-date interpretations of the treaty texts. Following a brief overview of the methodology and process of the update as well as a historical background to the Second Geneva Convention, this article addresses the scope of applicability of the Convention, the type of vessels it protects (in particular hospital ships and coastal rescue craft), and its relationship with other sources of international humanitarian law and international law conferring protection to persons in distress at sea. It also outlines differences and commonalities between the First and the Second Conventions, including how these have been reflected in the updated Commentary on the Second Convention. Finally, the article highlights certain substantive obligations under the Convention and how the updated Commentary addresses some of the interpretive questions they raise.
Since their publication in 1950s and 1980s, respectively, the Commentaries on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 have become a major reference for the application and interpretation of these treaties. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), together with a team of renowned experts, is currently updating these Commentaries in order to document developments and provide up-to-date interpretations. The work on the first updated Commentary, the Commentary on the First Geneva Convention relating to the protection of the wounded and sick in the armed forces, has already been finalized. This article provides an overview of the methodology and process of the update and summarizes the main evolutions in the interpretation of the treaty norms reflected in the updated Commentary.
The ICRC Commentaries on the 1949 Geneva Conventions date back to the 1950s, and those on the 1977 Additional Protocols were written in the 1980s. Since the original Commentaries were published, the Conventions and Protocols have been put to the test, and practice with respect to their application and interpretation has developed significantly. In order to capture these new developments a major ICRC project to update the Commentaries on these six treaties is now well underway. Its goal is to contribute to a better understanding of, and respect for, international humanitarian law. Ultimately, the project seeks to enhance protection for the victims of armed conflicts.
This article explains the rationale behind a study on customary international humanitarian law recently undertaken by the ICRC at the request of the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. It describes the methodology used and how the study was organized and summarizes some major findings. It does not, however, purport to provide a complete overview or analysis of these findings.
In December 1995 the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent endorsed the recommendations drawn up by the Intergovernmental Group of Experts for the Protection for War Victims which had met, at the invitation of the Swiss government, on 23–27 January 1995 in Geneva. Recommendation II of this Group proposed that:
“the ICRC be invited to prepare, with the assistance of experts in IHL [international humanitarian law] representing various geographical regions and different legal systems, and in consultation with experts from governments and international organisations, a report on customary rules of IHL applicable in international and non-international armed conflicts, and to circulate the report to States and competent international bodies.”