International Conference on “60 Years of the Geneva Conventions and the decades to come”

Bern, Press release, 02.11.2009

Switzerland sees the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions as an opportunity for strengthening humanitarian law, ensuring greater respect for its principles and better protection for the victims of armed conflicts. With this in mind Switzerland, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has organised a conference of government and international experts entitled “60 Years of Geneva Conventions and the decades to come”. It will be held at the International Conference Centre Geneva (CICG) on 9-10 November 2009.

Switzerland has a long humanitarian tradition and attaches particular importance to respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This body of law is today confronted with developments and challenges that were largely unknown in 1949 when the Geneva Conventions were adopted. Conventional wars between sovereign states have to a great extent given way to internal conflicts, combat zones are the domain of non-state actors, and a new panoply of military technology unknown of in 1949 raises questions as to its conformity with IHL.

In order to discuss these challenges and what may be at stake for the international community Switzerland has organised an international conference that will bring together experts from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. The experts will also consider the question of existing instruments for the implementation of IHL, and their adaptation to the reality and challenges of today.

The conference will be opened by Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger and the former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. This event is intended mainly for diplomatic representatives and experts from the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions. The chair has also invited certain international organisations as well as non governmental organisations active in the area of International Humanitarian Law, and representatives of the academic world.

A parallel event on the subject “Protection of civilians in armed conflicts: the role and responsibilities of States” will be held on Monday 9 November (12.30 to 14.00). No decisions or resolutions will be taken or adopted during the conference. However the chair will draw up a summary of conclusions in bringing the conference to a close.

For additional information on the 60 years of the Geneva Conventions and the role of Switzerland: www.eda.admin.ch

Information for the media :
Media representatives may attend the opening of the conference on 9 November, between 9.30 and 10.30. They are also invited to the parallel event, 12.30-14.00, in room 5/6 of the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), for a discussion on: “Protection of civilians in armed conflicts: the role and responsibilities of states”. 

A press conference to announce the conclusions will be held on Tuesday, 10 November at 14.30 in room 13 of the Conference Centre. 

Contact : Raphaël Saborit, spokesman, 0041 79 335 76 14, raphael.saborit@eda.admin.ch


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