Advances In International Humanitarian Law
Shortly before the end of his President George W. Bush’s term in office, the United States ratified five important international humanitarian law treaties. The first treaty is the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The next four relate to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which limits a belligerent’s means and methods of harming its enemy. Of these four, one is an amendment to the Convention extending its scope to non-international armed conflicts. The other three are protocols to the CCW on incendiary weapons (Protocol III), blinding laser weapons (Protocol IV), and explosive remnants of war (Protocol V). These protocols forbid the use of weapons in ways likely to cause unnecessary or excessive suffering.
Although these treaties have been around for some time and reflect U.S. practice, they languished in the U.S. Senate for years awaiting ratification. In November 2007, at the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross Red Crescent, the U.S. Government signed a joint pledge with the American Red Cross vowing to work together towards ratification. During 2008, the American Red Cross sent letters in support of ratification to the Senate, and worked closely with the State Department and the Department of Defense to get the treaties prioritized and signed. The ratification is seen as a demonstration of the commitment of the U.S. Government to long-standing American humanitarian and cultural values. The American Red Cross is pleased to have been involved in this successful endeavor.
If you would like to learn more about IHL, we will be offering a class in the future. We will let you know when the class will be offered.