International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer (on screen) briefs the UN Security Council meeting on the promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security, at the UN headquarters in New York, Aug. 13, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Peter Maurer on Tuesday called on the international community to continue to take practical steps for the interpretation and thorough implementation of the international humanitarian law.
Briefing at a UN Security Council meeting on the promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security, Maurer said the international humanitarian law is at work saving lives and protecting women, men and children in conflicts around the world every single day.
Maurer said this year marks an important milestone: 70 years since the adoption of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which regulate the conduct of armed conflict and are considered the cornerstone of international humanitarian law.
Adopted on Aug. 12, 1949 and universally ratified, the Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics and aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops and prisoners of war).
Nevertheless, the latest UN secretary-general's report of May showed the continued devastating impact of armed conflict and its conduct on civilians around the world.
The report noted that parties are failing in their efforts to spare the civilian population and civilian objects in the conduct of military operations as required by international humanitarian law, or are choosing not to protect them.
Continued violations of the law do not mean the law is inadequate, but rather that efforts to ensure respect are inadequate, said the ICRC chief. "We can - and must - do more."
Therefore, Maurer called on countries to be vigilant - to keep watch over their legal responsibilities and continue to take practical steps for "ambitious interpretation and thorough implementation of the law."
It is a task of ensuring that the words of the Geneva Conventions do not remain dormant in legal texts but instead are known, applied and championed, Maurer added.