Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2007 
Article 7 - Dissemination

Although with some modifications, Article 7 of Additional Protocol III borrows the language of Article 83, paragraph 1, of Additional Protocol I.[59]The obligation of dissemination contained in these provisions is considered a necessary measure to ensure awareness of the Conventions and their Protocols: it fundamentally contributes to their respect as well as to their concrete implementation.
The emblem's role in the protection of medical personnel, units and transports explains the responsibility of the High Contracting Parties to disseminate the rules of Additional Protocol III in order to ensure that the red crystal is recognized and identified, as much as the red cross and the red crescent, as a protective sign in time of armed conflict. The dissemination of these rules must be as widespread as possible. Additional Protocol III explicitly reminds the Parties that dissemination-related activities must be carried out in times of peace for members of the armed forces, who are the first to be involved in the conduct of hostilities and in the protection of civilian objects and persons not or no longer taking part in hostilities. However, the Protocol also obliges States "to encourage" the study of these rules by the entire civilian population.[60]


59. As the Commentary on Protocol I (above note 17, pp. 960-961, § 3369) points out, Article 83, paragraph 1, essentially reaffirms the Conventions’ previous rules on that subject (see in particular Articles 47/48/127/144 of the four Geneva Conventions respectively). Additional Protocol II also contains an obligation related to dissemination, but its wording is more cursory: Article 19 reads: "This Protocol shall be disseminated as widely as possible."

60. On the meaning of the obligation to "encourage" study of the rules of international humanitarian law by the civilian population, see the Commentary on Protocol I, above note 17, pp. 965-967, §§ 3377-3381, for examples of practical measures that may be adopted in this respect.