Friday, October 8, 2010

It's not a matter of opinion....

It's a matter of law, 60 years old.


In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

And from the ICRC website statement of September 21, 2010

The study concluded that, with regard to most of the issues it examined, humanitarian law remains, on the whole, a suitable framework for regulating the conduct of parties to armed conflicts, international and non-international. Treaty and customary law have developed over the years: gaps have been filled in and ambiguities clarified. Recent experience has demonstrated the enduring relevance and adequacy of humanitarian law in preserving human life and dignity during armed conflict. What is required in most cases - to improve the situation of persons affected by armed conflict - is greater compliance with the existing legal framework, not the adoption of new rules. One can say with some certainty that if all the parties concerned showed perfect regard for humanitarian law, most of the humanitarian issues before us would not exist. All attempts to strengthen humanitarian law should, therefore, build on the existing legal framework. There is no need to discuss rules whose adequacy is long established.