How can we ensure that civilians are given the protection they are entitled to under international humanitarian law?
Over the years, international humanitarian law has developed into a strong body of law that sets clear obligations for the parties to armed conflict to protect the civilian population. Still, we see that the majority of victims of armed conflict are civilians. The terrible suffering inflicted on civilian populations across the globe necessitates an honest and open-minded discussion on how to improve the protection of civilians affected by armed conflicts.
For this reason, we believe it is necessary to engage government experts, the military, humanitarian organisations, as well as all other relevant actors, in a genuinely global dialogue on how to ensure that all parties to a conflict live up to their obligations under international humanitarian law. To this end, we need to identify concrete, practical measures to be taken by the different actors involved in armed conflicts in order to improve the situation for civilians.
The “Reclaiming the Protection of Civilians under International Humanitarian Law” initiative was launched in 2009 to create a forum for such dialogue. Through a series of regional seminars, including in Jakarta (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Kampala (2012) and Vienna (2013), focus has been on the main challenges and on concrete measures that could address them.
The initiative will be concluded by a Global Conference in Oslo, 23-24 May 2013, gathering experts from States, international organisations, civil society as well as other relevant actors.
The aim of this initiative is not to negotiate new legal obligations but to discuss and identify practical measures that may be taken by both military and civilian actors to ensure full compliance with existing IHL obligations. The final outcome document of the conference will be in the form of a list of recommendations that may be taken.
Another key goal for this initiative is to establish a “global community for IHL and the protection of civilians”; a continuous, global dialogue to ensure that civilians are given the protection they are entitled to under international humanitarian law. The Global Conference will therefore seek to formulate concrete proposals for how these discussions may be taken further at a national, regional and global level.
Please note that participation is by invitation only.
For further information or other inquiries, please contact the conference secretariat, Ms. Jannicke Fredriksen, at e-mail: , or phone: (+47) 23 95 01 37.