Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2020 
Article 127 : Dissemination of the Convention
Text of the provision*
(1) The High Contracting Parties undertake, in time of peace as in time of war, to disseminate the text of the present Convention as widely as possible in their respective countries, and, in particular, to include the study thereof in their programmes of military and, if possible, civil instruction, so that the principles thereof may become known to all their armed forces and to the entire population.
(2) Any military or other authorities, who in time of war assume responsibilities in respect of prisoners of war, must possess the text of the Convention and be specially instructed as to its provisions.
* Paragraph numbers have been added for ease of reference.
Reservations or declarations
None
Contents

A. Introduction
5015  Article 127 aims to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the Third Geneva Convention by the High Contracting Parties within their respective countries, among both their armed forces and their entire population. A similar provision on dissemination is included in all four Geneva Conventions.[1]
5016  The task of dissemination is a legal obligation under the Geneva Conventions, and its inclusion was based on the conviction of the drafters that knowledge of the law is an essential condition for its effective application. While it is now recognized that knowledge of the law alone will not prevent violations,[2] spreading knowledge of the law is understood to be an ‘important element of any strategy aimed at creating an environment conducive to lawful behaviour’.[3]
5017  Dissemination of international humanitarian law by the High Contracting Parties within their respective countries sends an important signal of a State’s support for the law and can thus enhance its respect. Specific guidance by a State in the form of doctrine, education and training on how to apply international humanitarian law provisions in practice further enhances their implementation.[4] The adoption of an effective national sanctions regime for violations also contributes to respect for the law.[5]
5018  Even though the responsibility for dissemination primarily rests with States, dissemination of international humanitarian law represents one of the functions of the ICRC,[6] as well as being a responsibility of National Societies, of their own accord or as assistance in cooperation with their respective States.[7] The Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement also recognize a role for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in this respect.[8]
5019  In December 2019, the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent adopted a resolution entitled “Bringing IHL home: a road map for better implementation of IHL’.[9] Several of its paragraphs deal with the topic of dissemination of the Geneva Conventions among the armed forces and the general population.[10]
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B. Historical background
5020  While the importance of spreading knowledge of international humanitarian law among both the armed forces and the civilian population had been recognized before,[11] an obligation for States to instruct their troops and inform the civilian population about the provisions contained in the Conventions was first codified in the 1906 Geneva Convention, the 1907 Hague Convention (X) and the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick.[12] The 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War did not, however, contain a similar provision.[13]
5021  During the 1947 Conference of Government Experts, there was nevertheless agreement ‘that the [1929 Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick] was not sufficiently well known, and that knowledge of this document should form part of the instruction of all members of the armed forces’.[14] The draft article adopted by the Conference therefore emphasized the obligation to make the text of the Convention known both in peacetime and in time of war and expressly referred to the instruction of medical personnel and chaplains.[15] In relation to the Third Convention, the draft adopted required that the Detaining Power ‘instruct guards and personnel of PW camps in the stipulations of the Convention’ and recommended that governments ‘as far as possible, bring the said stipulations to the knowledge of their forces’.[16]
5022  The draft article subsequently submitted by the ICRC to the 17th International Conference of the Red Cross in Stockholm in 1948 already largely resembled Article 127.[17] This draft was adopted in Stockholm without substantive change, with the exception of the inclusion of a qualifier ‘if possible’ regarding the incorporation of the study of the Convention in programmes of civil instruction.[18] Similar draft articles had been suggested for the revision of the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War and for the new Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and were adopted without substantive change.[19]
5023  At the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, the ICRC pointed out that the draft article on dissemination as adopted by the Stockholm Conference was
introduced to meet the desire expressed in various quarters that the Convention should be more widely disseminated amongst the public and amongst those who had occasion to apply it or to refer to its provisions. The text of this Article varies lightly according to the Conventions. [The ICRC] proposed to adopt the text as worded in Article 38 of the Wounded and Sick Convention in the manner that the words ‘if possible’ figure in all the Conventions.[20]
The suggestion to include ‘if possible’ in all four Geneva Conventions was made in reaction to concerns expressed at the Stockholm Conference that constitutional limitations affecting certain governments in federal States restricted their ability to centrally regulate education matters.[21] A proposal to this effect was unanimously adopted by the Diplomatic Conference.[22]
5024  As a result, practically identical wording was adopted for Article 47 of the First Convention, Article 48 of the Second Convention, Article 127(1) of the Third Convention and Article 144(1) of the Fourth Convention, varying only with respect to the groups of persons to whom the principles of the Conventions should become known.[23]
5025  Article 127(2) of the Third Convention and Article 144(2) of the Fourth Convention contain additional obligations to disseminate the Conventions among, respectively, ‘[a]ny military or other authorities who in time of war assume responsibilities in respect of prisoners of war’ and ‘[a]ny civilian, military, police or other authorities, who in time of war assume responsibilities in respect of protected persons’.[24]
5026  Dissemination obligations are also included in Additional Protocol I,[25] Additional Protocol II,[26] and Additional Protocol III.[27] Other treaties of relevance in situations of armed conflict also contain dissemination obligations binding the States that are party to them.[28]
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C. Paragraph 1: The obligation to disseminate
1. Legal obligation for States Parties
5027  The dissemination of the text of the Third Convention is a legal obligation for the States party to this Convention. The term ‘undertake’ underlines the commitment of States to embrace this obligation, which is a corollary of the wider commitment made by States to respect and ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions in common Article 1.[29]
5028  Article 127 tasks States Parties with spreading knowledge of the Convention in their respective countries. However, a ‘State cannot act of itself’; it is an entity with ‘full authority to act under international law’, but in order to implement its obligations it must ultimately act through human beings.[30] If it wants to comply with its obligations under the Geneva Conventions, a State must therefore make these obligations known to the persons and groups of persons empowered to exercise elements of governmental authority, as well as persons and groups of persons in fact acting on its instructions or under its direction or control.[31] States need to assign the implementation of the dissemination obligation to their organs, in particular the relevant ministries and subordinate public authorities. Concrete measures, means and mechanisms need to be put in place for that purpose, such as the establishment of education and training structures within the armed forces.[32]
5029  While the main responsibility for the dissemination of the Conventions rests with States, it need not always be State organs that in practice carry out the dissemination activities. Other persons and groups can be given a mandate at the national level to assist the State in the fulfilment of this obligation. National Societies, in particular, can play a role in spreading knowledge of the Geneva Conventions and more generally of the principles of international humanitarian law. This has been explicitly recognized in the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement,[33] as well as in national legislation and in National Societies’ statutory instruments.[34]
5030  In addition, the promotion of international humanitarian law and the spreading of knowledge of the Geneva Conventions represent one of the key roles of the ICRC.[35] This was reiterated by the Diplomatic Conference in 1977, which invited ‘the ICRC to participate actively in the effort to disseminate knowledge of international humanitarian law’.[36] For that purpose, the ICRC has, for example, specialized delegates assigned to dissemination tasks in the various regions of the world. It develops dissemination programmes and teaching material for armed and security forces, the media, academic circles and young people, and runs campaigns to heighten public awareness of the law.[37]
5031  The promotion of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law more generally also figures in the mandates of national committees on international humanitarian law.[38]
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2. Dissemination in time of peace and in time of armed conflict
5032  The obligation of the High Contracting Parties to disseminate the text of the Geneva Conventions as widely as possible in their respective countries applies ‘in time of peace as in time of war’. This obligation therefore belongs to those provisions of the Geneva Conventions to be implemented in time of peace.[39]
5033  This ensures that a State Party’s dissemination efforts do not start only once an armed conflict has erupted, when the principles underlying international humanitarian law may be more difficult to convey.[40] The teaching of international humanitarian law in time of peace allows for the development of education and training programmes and materials adapted to various audiences and needs. Furthermore, it enables audiences to become acquainted with international humanitarian law over extended periods and contributes to building knowledge of the law and internalizing its principles over time.
5034  Equally, Article 127 obliges States to continue their efforts to promote and spread knowledge about the Conventions and underlying principles after an armed conflict has broken out and to recall the importance of the rules of international humanitarian law in the face of the reality of armed conflict.
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3. Scope of the obligation
a. General
5035  According to the dissemination provisions found in the four Geneva Conventions, the High Contracting Parties are to disseminate the text of the Conventions ‘as widely as possible in their respective countries’.[41]
5036  Where the language or languages used in a State are neither English nor French, the two authentic languages of the Geneva Conventions, nor Russian or Spanish, the two languages for which the Swiss Federal Council was entrusted with arranging official translations,[42] proper dissemination of the text of the Conventions will require their translation into the national language or languages.[43]
5037  The obligation to disseminate the ‘text’ of the Conventions includes common Article 3 applicable in non-international armed conflict, which binds all Parties to the conflict, both States and non-State armed groups. In this respect, the dissemination by the High Contracting Parties of common Article 3 and other international humanitarian law provisions applicable in non-international armed conflict among governmental authorities and the entire population is important in creating an environment conducive to lawful behaviour in the event of a non-international armed conflict.[44]
5038  The obligation to disseminate the text of the Conventions ‘as widely as possible in their respective countries’ leaves States a certain margin of discretion with respect to the measures to be taken, depending, for example, on the means available.[45] Nevertheless, a State is obliged to reach out ‘as widely as possible’ according to its capacity and means. Modern information technology and the internet provide the opportunity to disseminate international humanitarian law to larger audiences at a lesser cost.[46]
5039  The formulation of the dissemination obligation reflected the conviction of the drafters at the time that knowledge of the law is a precondition for compliance and that the spreading of knowledge would generate respect. However, empirical research indicates that ‘[k]nowledge does not suffice to induce a favourable attitude towards a norm’,[47] and that doctrine, education, training and equipment, as well as sanctions, are key factors in shaping the behaviour of weapon bearers during operations.[48]
5040  As a consequence, the scope of Article 127 must not be reduced to an obligation to post and distribute the text of the Convention. The formulation ‘disseminate … so that the principles thereof may become known’ has a wider meaning than ‘publish the text’ or ‘make it available’. Dissemination aims at making the spirit of the Geneva Conventions understood by all people and to have their content internalized rather than their text simply publicized. As such, Article 127 obliges States to ‘include the study thereof in their programmes of military and, if possible, civil instruction’.
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b. Military instruction programmes
5041  The study of humanitarian law by the armed forces is essential. It is for this reason that they are mentioned explicitly as the first group of persons that need to be instructed in the principles of the Conventions. Members of the armed forces bear the responsibility for applying most of their provisions.[49] At the same time, by virtue of their service, it is a likely that they will come into situations in which they benefit from the protections of international humanitarian law, for example if they fall into enemy hands. Knowledge of those protections may help ensure that they enjoy the rights secured to them.[50]
5042  Article 127 does not prescribe how the High Contracting Parties are to comply with their obligation to include the study of the Third Convention in their programmes of military instruction. They can do so in a variety of ways.
5043  In practice, States issue military manuals and other standard reference materials on international humanitarian law or, in some cases, integrate the law into their field manuals. Numerous military manuals contain separate chapters dealing exclusively with issues arising from the Third Convention. Furthermore, they develop materials, courses and movies for the teaching of their armed forces. These learning materials are often adapted in their complexity and detail to the rank and respective roles and responsibilities of the specific target audience. In addition, States not only teach international humanitarian law as a subject of theoretical knowledge, but include it in regular practical training and exercises, in order to ensure that compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law becomes a reflex.[51]
5044  In order to be effective and to induce behaviour compliant with the law, international humanitarian law must not be taught as an abstract and separate set of legal norms but must be integrated into all regular military activity, training and instruction.[52] Such integration should aim to inspire and influence the military culture and its underlying values, in order to ensure that legal considerations and principles of international humanitarian law are incorporated, as much as possible, into military doctrine and decision-making.[53]
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c. Civil instruction programmes
5045  The study of the Conventions in programmes of civil instruction is another important element of the dissemination of international humanitarian law.
5046  Proper dissemination of the rules and principles of the Conventions and a meaningful integration of international humanitarian law into military doctrine requires political commitment. Such commitment is dependent not only on the ‘buy-in’ of military commanders but also on that of civilian authorities, in particular members of the executive, legislature and judiciary, as well as law enforcement officers. The same is true with regard to individuals such as community, religious or political leaders who, through their words and actions, are able to influence weapons-bearers to better comply with international humanitarian law.[54]
5047  In addition, it is a characteristic of the Geneva Conventions that they not only contain obligations directed towards the State and those acting on its behalf, but also provisions addressing persons or groups of persons whose actions are not attributable to the State.[55] Bringing the Geneva Conventions to the knowledge of the general population is therefore a significant element for attaining full compliance with the Conventions.[56] This is also relevant because the obligation of States Parties to suppress all violations of the Conventions and, in the case of grave breaches, to repress them under domestic criminal law, applies not only to violations committed by persons acting on behalf of a State, but also to violations by private persons. Thus, members of the general population may become subject to prosecution for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and their knowledge of the Conventions is therefore important.[57]
5048  Civil instruction programmes can also take the form of specific training courses held for media professionals. Such training helps to ensure that media representatives understand the legal and humanitarian issues in armed conflict and that they correctly report on these.[58] In some countries, the ICRC organizes or participates in such training for active journalists and supports the integration of relevant modules into journalism courses.[59]
5049  The obligation to include the study of the Geneva Conventions in programmes of civil instruction is qualified by the insertion of ‘if possible’, owing to concerns expressed during the negotiations that constitutional limitations in federal States could prevent a State Party from prescribing general public education programmes. Other concerns include overburdened curricula, limited financial means, lack of interest among the target audiences or an apprehension of being misunderstood as preparing for armed conflict.[60] Practice has shown, however, that these concerns can be overcome: the study of the Conventions and international humanitarian law more generally has been included in programmes directed to the civilian population, for example through school or university curricula.[61]
5050  Familiarizing the entire population with international humanitarian law contributes to an environment conducive to respect for the law, in which the principles and rules underlying and forming international humanitarian law are accepted, supported and defended, and, should the need arise, applied to address humanitarian issues specific to each context.
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D. Paragraph 2: Authorities with responsibilities in respect of prisoners of war
5051  As is the case with paragraph 1, Article 127(2) applies to all High Contracting Parties, regardless of whether they are party to an international armed conflict.[62] It requires them to do two things vis-à-vis ‘any military or other authorities, who in time of war assume responsibilities in respect of prisoners of war’: they must make sure that these authorities ‘possess’ the text of the Third Convention and that they are ‘specially instructed as to its provisions’.
5052  Which ‘authorities’ are covered by this provision is left to each High Contracting Party to determine based on its own domestic arrangements. ‘Military authorities’ include all members of the armed forces who may come in contact with prisoners of war, whether briefly or for a prolonged period. All levels of command are concerned, both within the facilities where prisoners of war are held and outside them (e.g. at ministry and executive level).[63] ‘Other authorities’ would include civilians working for entities such as the Ministry of Defence and the national information bureau, and representatives of a Protecting Power or its substitute.
5053  The Convention does not clarify in which language these authorities must possess the Convention (which may be in paper or digital format). Again, it is left to each Party to decide which languages are appropriate for its governmental institutions and to draw on any ‘official translations’ established in accordance with Article 128. What matters is that anyone who qualifies as an authority in the sense of Article 127(2) possesses the text in a language they understand, following the same approach as that required under Article 41, which deals with the different issue of dissemination of the Convention to prisoners of war (in their ‘own language’/‘a language they understand’).[64]
5054  Merely possessing the text of the Convention does not suffice to ensure its proper implementation by those with responsibilities vis-à-vis prisoners of war. Unlike Article 127(1), which requires that the relevant authorities and general population be familiarized with the ‘principles’ of the Convention, anyone qualifying as an authority in the sense of Article 127(2) must be ‘specially instructed as to its provisions’ (emphasis added). It is up to each High Contracting Party to organize this instruction.[65] In accordance with its mandate, the ICRC can advise and assist States in this regard.[66]
5055  Article 127(2) refers only to ‘the Convention’, i.e. the Third Convention. In practice, however, it would be advisable to follow the principle set down in Article 41. Thus, to implement this provision effectively the authorities concerned should possess and be specially instructed in not only the Convention itself, but also ‘its Annexes and the contents of any special agreement provided for in Article 6’, as well as ‘[r]egulations, orders, notices and publications of every kind relating to the conduct of prisoners of war’.
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Bernard, Vincent (ed.), Generating respect for the law, International Review of the Red Cross, Special issue, Vol. 96, No. 895/896, Autumn/Winter 2015.
Bernard, Vincent and Nikolova, Mariya, ‘Generating respect for the law: The need for persistence and imagination’, in Julia Grignon (ed.), Tribute to Jean Pictet, Editions Yvon Blais, Montreal, 2016, pp. 564–578.
Bothe, Michael, ‘The role of national law in the implementation of international humanitarian law’, in Christophe Swinarski (ed.), Studies and Essays on International Humanitarian Law and Red Cross Principles in Honour of Jean Pictet, ICRC/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague, 1984, pp. 301–312.
Harroff-Tavel, Marion, ‘The International Committee of the Red Cross and the promotion of international humanitarian law: Looking back, looking forward’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 96, Nos 895/896, 2014, pp. 817–857.
ICRC, Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law, ‘National Committees for the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law’, 2003.
– Advisory Service on International Humanitarian Law, ‘The Obligation to Disseminate International Humanitarian Law’, 2003.
The Roots of Behaviour in War: Understanding and Preventing IHL Violations, ICRC, Geneva, 2004.
– Integrating the Law, ICRC, Geneva, 2007.
The Roots of Restraint in War, ICRC, Geneva, June 2018.
National Committees and Similar Entities on International Humanitarian Law: Guidelines for Success, ICRC, Geneva, 2019.
Junod, Sylvie-Stoyanka, ‘La diffusion du droit international humanitaire’, in Christophe Swinarski (ed.), Etudes et essais sur le droit international humanitaire et sur les principes de la Croix-Rouge en l’honneur de Jean Pictet, ICRC/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague, 1984, pp. 359–368.
Kadam, Umesh, ‘Teaching international humanitarian law in academic institutions in South Asia: An overview of an ICRC dissemination programme’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 83, No. 841, March 2001, pp. 167–169.
Kuster, Etienne, ‘Promoting the Teaching of IHL in Universities: Overview, Successes and Challenges of the ICRC’s Approach’, in Dražan Djukić and Niccolò Pons (eds), The Companion to International Humanitarian Law, Brill, Leiden, 2018, pp. 3–38.
Meyer, Michael A., ‘The role of a National Society in the implementation of international humanitarian law – taking up the challenge!’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 37, No. 317, April 1997, pp. 203–207.
Mikos-Skuza, Elżbieta, ‘Dissemination of the Conventions, Including in Time of Armed Conflict’, in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta and Marco Sassòli (eds), The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 597–614.
Quéguiner, Jean-François, ‘Commentary on the Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III)’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 89, No. 865, March 2007, pp. 175–207.
Spoerri, Philip, ‘From Dissemination towards Integration: An ICRC Perspective’, Military Law and the Law of War Review, Vol. 52, No. 1, 2013, pp. 113–122.
Surbeck, Jean-Jacques, ‘La diffusion du droit international humanitaire, condition de son application’, in Christophe Swinarski (ed.), Etudes et essais sur le droit international humanitaire et sur les principes de la Croix-Rouge en l’honneur de Jean Pictet, ICRC/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague, 1984, pp. 537–549.
Verri, Pietro, ‘Institutions militaires : le problème de l’enseignement du droit des conflits armés et de l’adaptation des règlements à ses prescriptions humanitaires’, in Christophe Swinarski (ed.), Etudes et essais sur le droit international humanitaire et sur les principes de la Croix-Rouge en l’honneur de Jean Pictet, ICRC/Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague, 1984, pp. 603–619.

1 - See First Convention, Article 47; Second Convention, Article 48; and Fourth Convention, Article 144(1).
2 - For a detailed discussion of the factors influencing compliance with international humanitarian law, see ICRC, The Roots of Restraint in War; see also ICRC, Integrating the Law, p. 15, and ICRC, The Roots of Behaviour in War, p. 11.
3 - ICRC, Integrating the Law, p. 17.
4 - See ICRC, Decision-Making Process in Military Combat Operations, ICRC, Geneva, October 2013, providing guidance to military commanders and their staff on integrating the law into their planning and decision-making processes to ensure legally compliant operations.
5 - See e.g. ICRC, Integrating the Law, p. 35, on the relevance of effective sanctions for compliance with the law by weapon bearers.
6 - See Diplomatic Conference, Geneva, 1974–1977, Res. 21, Dissemination of knowledge of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts, paras 2 and 4. See also Official Records of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1974–1977, Vol. I, p. 214.
7 - See Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (1986), Article 3, which reads in part: ‘[National Societies] disseminate and assist their governments in disseminating international humanitarian law; they take initiatives in this respect.’ See also Diplomatic Conference, Geneva, 1974–1977, Res. 21, Dissemination of knowledge of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts, para. 3, and Official Records of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1974–1977, Vol. I, p. 214. The role of National Societies was further addressed in resolutions adopted by International Conferences of the Red Cross and Red Crescent: see e.g. 26th International Conference, 1995, Res. 1, International humanitarian law: From law to action, Report on the follow-up to the International Conference for the Protection of War Victims, paras 6 and 8; 30th International Conference, Geneva, 2007, Res. 3, Reaffirmation and implementation of international humanitarian law: Preserving human life and dignity in armed conflict, 2007, preambular para. 15 and operative para. 27; and 33rd International Conference, Geneva, 2011, Res. 1, Bringing IHL home: A road map for better national implementation of international humanitarian law, preambular para. 11, reprinted in International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 101, No. 911, 2019, pp. 838–841. The role of National Societies in the dissemination of international humanitarian law has also been recognized in forums outside the Movement; see e.g. UN General Assembly, Res. 93, Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts, 14 December 2012, preambular para. 13.
8 - See Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (1986), Article 6(4)(j).
9 - 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 2019, Res. 1, Bringing IHL home: A road map for better national implementation of international humanitarian law, reprinted in International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 101, No. 911, 2019, pp. 838–841.
10 - See ibid. preambular paras 11, 12 and 14 and operative paras 3, 5, 7, 8 and 10.
11 - See e.g. First International Conference of the Red Cross, Paris, 1867, Vœux de la Conférence Internationale, Article 9, and Oxford Manual (1880), preambular para. 5.
12 - See Geneva Convention (1906), Article 26; Hague Convention (X) (1907), Article 20; and Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick (1929), Article 27.
13 - It only dealt, in Article 84, with the separate issue of making the text available to the prisoners of war.
14 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 60.
15 - Ibid. draft article 30, p. 59. An identical draft article was adopted for inclusion in the revision of the 1907 Hague Convention (X); see ibid. draft article 28, p. 101.
16 - Ibid. draft article 85, pp. 261–262.
17 - See Draft Conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference, draft article 36, p. 49.
18 - See Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, draft article 42, p. 46.
19 - See ibid. pp. 99 and 159.
20 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-B, p. 24.
21 - See ICRC Remarks and Proposals on the 1948 Stockholm Draft, pp. 63–64 and 84.
22 - See Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-B, pp. 70 and 112.
23 - First Convention, Article 47, and Second Convention, Article 48 (‘the armed fighting forces, the medical personnel and the chaplains’); Third Convention, Article 127(1) (‘all their armed forces and to the entire population’); Fourth Convention, Article 144(1) (‘the entire population’).
24 - See also Third Convention, Article 41, and Fourth Convention, Article 99, for provisions on dissemination inside prisoner-of-war and internment camps.
25 - See Additional Protocol I, Article 83, as well as Article 6 (Qualified persons), Article 82 (Legal advisers in armed forces) and Article 87(2) (Duty of commanders).
26 - See Additional Protocol II, Article 19.
27 - See Additional Protocol III, Article 7. For a commentary, see Quéguiner, p. 199.
28 - See e.g. Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property (1954), Article 25; Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property (1999), Article 30; Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (1980), Article 6; Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (1996), Article 14; Protocol IV to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (1995), Article 2; Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 42; and Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000), Article 6. See also ICRC Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law (2005), Rules 141–143.
29 - For more details on the obligation to respect and ensure respect for the Conventions, see the commentary on Article 1.
30 - See Draft Articles on State Responsibility (2001), commentary on Article 2, p. 35, para. 5.
31 - For descriptions of persons or groups of persons acting on behalf of a State, see ibid. draft articles 4, 5 and 8. Actions or omissions by such persons or groups of persons will be attributable to the State and will entail its international responsibility if they constitute a breach of the State’s international obligations under the Geneva Conventions; see also draft articles 1–2. For all the types of persons and entities or groups of persons whose conduct is attributable to the State, see draft articles 4–11.
32 - See e.g. ICRC, Integrating the Law, pp. 12–13.
33 - See Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (1986), Article 3. The Statutes also recognize a role for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies assisting the National Societies in this respect; see Article 6(3) and (4)(j) of the Statutes.
34 - See e.g. Royal Charter of the British Red Cross Society, approved by Her Majesty the Queen in Council on 22 July 1997 with effect from 1 January 1998 and revised by Her Majesty the Queen in Council on 17 July 2003, para. 5.2; Austria, Red Cross Protection Law, 2008, Article 3; Germany, Red Cross Act, 2008, section 2(1)(2); and Statutes of the French Red Cross, 2012, Article 2.
35 - See Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (1986), Article 5(2)(g) and (4).
36 - Diplomatic Conference, Geneva, 1974–1977, Res. 21, Dissemination of knowledge of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts, para. 4: Invites the International Committee of the Red Cross to participate actively in the effort to disseminate knowledge of international humanitarian law by, inter alia: (a) publishing material that will assist in teaching international humanitarian law, and circulating appropriate information for the dissemination of the Geneva Conventions and the Protocols, (b) organizing, on its own initiative or when requested by Governments or National Societies, seminars and courses on international humanitarian law, and co-operating for that purpose with States and appropriate institutions.
37 - See Bernard/Nikolova; Haroff-Tavel; and Kuster.
38 - See ICRC, National Committees and Similar Entities on International Humanitarian Law, pp. 17–19. The creation of such national committees, bringing together, for example, the relevant State ministries, representatives of the armed forces, the legislature and the judiciary, as well as of members of academic circles and the National Society, was one of the recommendations adopted by the 1995 Intergovernmental Group of Experts on the Protection of War Victims and endorsed by the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1995. As at November 2019, national committees for the implementation of international humanitarian law, or similar bodies, existed in 112 countries. A full list of such committees can be found at https://www.icrc.org/en/document/table-national-committees-and-other-national-bodies-international-humanitarian-law.
39 - For more details on ‘the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime’, see the commentary on Article 2, section C.
40 - See e.g. Surbeck, p. 541.
41 - First Convention, Article 47; Second Convention, Article 48; Third Convention, Article 127(1); Fourth Convention, Article 144(1).
42 - On the languages of the Conventions, see First Convention, Article 55; Second Convention, Article 54; Third Convention, Article 133; and Fourth Convention, Article 150.
43 - On the communication between High Contracting Parties of translations of the Conventions, see First Convention, Article 48; Second Convention, Article 49; Third Convention, Article 128; and Fourth Convention, Article 145. The ICRC library maintains a list of existing translations of the Geneva Conventions, http://library.icrc.org/library/search/authority?authorityId=71939.
44 - For further details, see the commentary on Article 3, section M.5.a. See also Additional Protocol II, Article 19, which explicitly requires the dissemination of the Protocol.
45 - See e.g. Junod, p. 360.
46 - See e.g. e-learning modules on ‘Basic rules and principles of IHL’ designed by the ICRC, https://www.icrc.org/en/online-training-centre, and the online version of Marco Sassòli, Antoine Bouvier, Anne Quintin and Julia Grignon, How Does Law Protect in War?, https://casebook.icrc.org/. See also 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Geneva, 2011, Res. 1, Bringing IHL home: A road map for better national implementation of international humanitarian law, para. 10.
47 - ICRC, The Roots of Behaviour in War, p. 8, and Spoerri, p. 113.
48 - See ICRC, Integrating the Law, pp. 17 and 23–35, and Spoerri, p. 114.
49 - For the Third Convention specifically, see also the commentary on Article 12, para. 1518.
50 - For example, by informing persons protected under the Geneva Conventions of the assurance of the law that they ‘may in no circumstances renounce in part or in entirety the rights secured to them by the present Convention’; see common Article 7 (Article 8 of the Fourth Convention).
51 - See e.g. South Africa, Revised Civic Education Manual, 2004, Chapter 4: International Humanitarian Law (Law of Armed Conflict), para. 38: ‘In the circumstances of combat, soldiers may often not have time to consider the principles of the LOAC before acting. Soldiers must therefore not only know these principles but must be trained so that the proper response to specific situations is second nature.’ See also Côte d’Ivoire, Teaching Manual, 2007, Vol. I, p. 7: ‘The objective of this instruction is to trigger within the soldier a spontaneous reaction which is to conform with the principles of that law. The soldier must know that respect for these rules is part of military discipline and that every violation leads to disciplinary and/or penal sanctions.’ See also Verri, pp. 614–615.
52 - See e.g. Burkina Faso, Decree Introducing IHL in the Armed Forces, 1994 (‘The teaching of international humanitarian law (IHL) in the Armed Forces is mandatory. It is disseminated at all levels of military hierarchy and forms an integral part of every programme of … training or instruction.’); Italy, LOAC Elementary Rules Manual, 1991, para. 22 (‘Law of war training has to be integrated into normal military activity.’); Madagascar, Military Manual, 1994, para. 22; and Spain, LOAC Manual, 1996, para. 10.8.c.(2). See also Philippines, Joint Circular on Adherence to IHL and Human Rights, 1991, para. 3(d) (‘These provisions [among which the relevant provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions] shall be integrated into the regular Program of Instruction for [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and [Philippine National Police] troops/police information and education sessions in all levels of command/office’); Russian Federation, Regulations on the Application of IHL, 2001, para. 170 (‘Respect of international humanitarian law is only possible if the members of the armed forces are well aware of its rules and have skills to apply them while preparing and conducting combat operations.’), para. 171 (‘International humanitarian law shall be trained [sic] both in peacetime and in time of war as part of servicemen’s training and education. International humanitarian law training shall be integrated in combat (commanders’) training curricula’) and para. 172 (‘The aim of international humanitarian law training is to prepare servicemen to discharge their duty in a complex situation in compliance with international humanitarian law.’); and Ukraine, Procedure for the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law in the Armed Forces, 2017, section V, 1.1 (‘Observance of IHL is ensured only if the servicemen have thorough theoretical knowledge of IHL and practical skills related to their use in military action.’) and Annex 4 entitled ‘Reminder card for a soldier when performing military service duties and special (combat) tasks’. See also e.g. Russian Federation, Regulations on Legal Activities in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, 2015, as amended, Chapter VIII, para. 72 (‘Legal support for operations conducted by military forces (troops) in armed conflicts, including peace operations, is organized with a view to ensuring respect for the legislation of the Russian Federation and the norms of the International Humanitarian Law. It is implemented through the following: … studying the norms of the International Humanitarian Law.’). For empirical work on the effectiveness of international and military ethics training programmes, see e.g. Christopher H. Warner et al., ‘Effectiveness of battlefield-ethics training during combat deployment: A programme assessment’, The Lancet, Vol. 378, No. 9794, September 2011, pp. 915–924; Eva van Baarle et al., ‘What Sticks? The Evaluation of a Train-the-Trainer Course in Military Ethics and Its Perceived Outcomes’, Journal of Military Ethics, Vol. 16, No. 1–2, April 2017, pp. 56–77; Andrew Bell, ‘Leashing the “Dogs of War”: Examining the Effects of LOAC Training at the U.S. Military Academy and in Army ROTC’, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law 108 (2014): 370–373; Carl A. Castro and Dennis McGurk, ‘Battlefield Ethics’, Traumatology, Vol. 13, No. 4, December 2007, pp. 24–31; and Deanna L. Messervey et al., 2010 Defence Ethics Survey Report, Department of National Defence, Ottawa, December 2011. See also contrary findings, Devorah Manekin, ‘The Limits of Socialization and the Underproduction of Military Violence: Evidence from the IDF’, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 54, No. 5, September 2017, pp. 606–619.
53 - See ICRC, The Roots of Restraint in War, which found (i) empirical evidence that the intensity of training in humanitarian law and how it is taught makes a difference to battlefield conduct; and (ii) that an exclusive focus on the law is not as effective at influencing behaviour as a combination of the law and the values underpinning it. Linking the law to local norms and values gives it greater traction. The role of the law is vital in setting standards but encouraging individuals to internalize the values it represents through socialization is a more durable way of promoting restraint. See also ICRC, Integrating the Law, pp. 17 and 23–35. On military culture and protection of civilians, see Andrew M. Bell, ‘Military Culture and Restraint toward Civilians in War: Examining the Ugandan Civil Wars’, Security Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3, July 2016, pp. 488–518; Colin H. Kahl, ‘In the Crossfire or the Crosshairs? Norms, Civilian Casualties, and U.S. Conduct in Iraq’, International Security, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2007, pp. 7–46; and Chiara Ruffa, Military Cultures in Peace and Stability Operations: Afghanistan and Lebanon, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2018. On humanitarian law integration and combat ethics training, see e.g. Elizabeth Stubbins Bates, ‘Towards Effective Military Training in International Humanitarian Law’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 96, No. 895–896, December 2014, pp. 795–816; Dale Stephens, ‘Behaviour in War: The Place of Law, Moral Inquiry and Self-Identity’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 96, No. 895–896, December 2014, pp. 751–73; and Megan M. Thompson and Rakesh Jetly, ‘Battlefield ethics training: integrating ethical scenarios in high-intensity military field exercises’, European Journal of Psychotraumatology, Vol. 5, No. 1, August 2014, Article No. 23668.
54 - See e.g. ICRC, ‘Dialogue with religious circles’ (web article), 22 July 2015.
55 - See e.g. Article 15(1) of the First Convention and Article 18(1) of the Second Convention, which imply a general prohibition of pillage and ill-treatment of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked, and of the despoliation of the dead; Article 18(2) of the First Convention, according to which the ‘civilian population shall respect [the] wounded and sick, and in particular abstain from offering them violence’; Article 44 of the First Convention, restricting the use of the emblem; and Article 13(2) of the Third Convention, which, among other things, implies a general prohibition of acts of violence, intimidation or insults against prisoners of war.
56 - See also common Article 1, according to which the ‘High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances’.
57 - For further details, see the commentary on Article 130, section C.3.
58 - The ICRC has provided training for media professionals in a number of contexts. See also the reference book for journalists: Roy Gutman, David Rieff and Anthony Dworkin (eds), Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know, 2nd edition, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2007.
59 - See ICRC, ‘IHL in Journalism Faculties’ (course outline), https://casebook.icrc.org/pedagogical-resources/ihl-journalism-faculties.
60 - See Junod, p. 360.
61 - See Kadam, pp. 167–169, and Kuster.
62 - See e.g. New Zealand, Military Manual, Vol. 4, 2019, p. 5-17, para. 5.7.2: ‘Some rules of [the law of armed conflict] expressly apply at all times. Members of the NZDF [New Zealand Defence Force] are at all times to apply the rules that: a. require the dissemination of LOAC to members [of] the NZDF.’
63 - This paragraph thus complements the second sentence of Article 39(1), which requires that the commissioned officer in charge of the prisoner-of-war camp ‘have in his possession a copy of the present Convention; he shall ensure that its provisions are known to the camp staff and the guard’.
64 - See also the commentary on Article 128, para. 5075.
65 - See United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 1082, para. 18.6.2, ‘Special Instruction or Training: ‘In addition to requirements to disseminate and to promote the study of treaties, treaties also require States to ensure that members of the armed forces who have duties under those treaties are trained commensurate with those duties. [Department of Defense] policy has required, as a general matter, that personnel are trained in the law of war commensurate with their duties.’ See also United States, Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Land Warfare, 2019, para. 3.3: Commanders who expect to conduct detention operations should familiarize themselves with guidance from higher headquarters … During detention operations, commanders should anticipate, and where appropriate request, guidance on detainee issues from higher headquarters, especially on issues implicating U.S. legal obligations or national policy. Commanders should seek the advice of their servicing judge advocate if they have any questions about the law applicable to the treatment of POWs, retained personnel, and other detainees.
66 - The ICRC’s Unit for Relations with Arms Carriers (FAS) employs specialist delegates, who are retired former military officers, to provide such advice and support.