Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
  • Print page
Commentary of 1987 
Rules of application
[p.969] Article 84 -- Rules of application

General remarks

3385 As we saw with regard to article 80 ' (Measures for execution), ' every Contracting Party must take a certain number of measures for execution in order for the Protocol to be applied fully. The present article, taken almost word for word from a provision in the Conventions (1) concerns the reciprocal communication of p.970] information by the Contracting Parties about the rules they have drawn up for this purpose. (2)

3386 The object of such information is to inform each Party of the way in which the other Parties understand their obligations and discharge them. This should mainly serve to avoid or reduce errors, discrepancies and contradictions. One could also expect some stimulation and a fruitful exchange of thoughts and experiences.

3387 In the absence of a common interpretation, prior knowledge of differences of interpretation may further serve to help avoid misunderstandings, which in some cases could have serious consequences.

3388 There were no amendments to the draft of this article. After the addition of the expression "as soon as possible" by the Working Group, the present text was adopted by consensus both in Committee I and in plenary. (3)

Official translations

3389 The authentic texts of the Conventions are those in English and French; to these may be added the official Spanish and Russian translations, produced by the depositary. (4) In conformity with contemporary practice, there are six authentic texts of the Protocol, viz., in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. (5)

3390 The legal system of each Party to the Protocol determines in which language(s) it must have the Protocol translated. These translations, which are official insofar as Contracting Parties issue them or recognize them, certainly constitute one of the necessary measures within the meaning of Article 80 ' (Measures for execution) ' to execute the obligations arising from the Protocol.

3391 These translations may be based on any of the six authentic texts, though there is no doubt that they will be more accurate if a comparison is made between two or several of the authentic texts. On the other hand, although there is no obligation in this respect, it seems desirable that States which have a common language should agree on a common translation.

Laws and regulations

3392 The term "laws and regulations" should be understood in the widest possible sense to cover all rules from the legislative and from the executive insofar as [p.971] such rules are in any way related to the application of the Protocol, examples for which are given in the commentary on Article 80 ' (Measures for execution), ' paragraph 1. (6)

Duties of Contracting parties and of the depositary

3393 The obligation arising from this article consists of a duty to mutually communicate information. However, this does not justify one Contracting Party considering itself released from that obligation with regard to another Party on the ground that the latter has not discharged it. The object of this provision, as with humanitarian law as a whole, is sufficiently important to reject any possibility of reciprocity. (7) Thus each Contracting Party is individually obliged to apply the present article as soon as possible after the rules and translations are passed or adopted.

3394 The effect of this article would be increased if the Contracting Parties, whenever necessary, added a translation in an international language of the laws and regulations they communicate. They will decide on the suitability of such a translation and the international language to be used.

3395 On the other hand, it clearly follows from the article that the depositary must receive a sufficient number of each document to send at least one copy to each Party to the Conventions, as we will see below; in fact, the depositary is only obliged to pass on what it receives and it is not responsible for translating, nor in principle for reproducing such documents.

3396 In addition it would be very useful for all such documents also to be communicated to the ICRC either directly or through the intermediary of the depositary, as was done for the Conventions, even though this is not actually required by the article.

Parties to the Conventions not bound by the protocol

3397 The expression "High Contracting Parties" in this article only covers the Parties to the Protocol, and not Parties only bound by the Conventions. As regards the recipients, there is an omission remedied in Article 100 ' (Notifications), ' subparagraph (c), which provides that communications received by the depositary in accordance with Article 84 will be also communicated by it to all the Parties to the Conventions.

' B.Z. '

NOTES (1) [(1) p.969] Common Article 48/49/128/145;

(2) [(2) p.970] On the meaning in the Protocol of the expression "High Contracting Parties", cf. commentary Preamble, supra, p. 25. For the present art., cf. infra, "Parties to the Conventions not bound by the Protocol";

(3) [(3) p.970] Cf. respectively O.R. VIII, p. 408, CDDH/I/SR.38, para. 33; O.R. VI, p. 260, CDDH/SR.43, para. 122;

(4) [(4) p.970] Common Article 54/55/133/150. The depositary of the Conventions and the Protocol is the Swiss Federal Council, as stated in Article 93; for its functions as depositary, cf. commentary Art. 100, infra, p. 1114;

(5) [(5) p.970] In accordance with Art. 102; for further details on the concepts of authentic texts, official translations prescribed by a treaty and official national translations, cf. commentary on that art., infra, pp. 1120-1122;

(6) [(6) p.971] Cf. supra, p. 931;

(7) [(7) p.971] On reciprocity, cf. commentary Art. 1, para. 1, supra, p. 37-38;