Practice Relating to Rule 143. Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law among the Civilian Population
Australia’s Defence Training Manual (1994) provides:
The Government of Australia is required to disseminate the text of the conventions [the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1977 Additional Protocols I and II, and the 1907 Hague Convention (IV)] as widely as possible, so that the principles become known … to the civilian population.
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
13.8 In time of peace and war, states are required to disseminate the texts of the Geneva Conventions 1949 and the two Additional Protocols 1977 as widely as possible within their respective countries. This may facilitate the principles of the Conventions and Protocols becoming known to the entire population.
13.9 … Those civilians or military who have responsibility for applying the conventions or protocols must be fully acquainted with the texts.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
In its report to UNESCO on measures to implement the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property, the Australian Government noted that it provided funds to the Australian Red Cross to enable it to conduct IHL dissemination activities throughout Australia, which included a description of the contents of the Convention.
Enumerating the matters which Australia believed must receive priority attention in the outcomes of the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1995, the head of the Australian delegation noted:
All States must take effective action to disseminate the law [of armed conflict] … because of the growth of irregular conflict, to their general populations. States and relevant international organizations must work together to ensure that dissemination programs are given the highest priority in terms of funding and materials.
In 2002, during a debate in the UN Security Council concerning the protection of UN personnel, associated personnel and humanitarian personnel in conflict zones, Australia stated:
Practical measures can be taken by Governments to promote understanding and observance of international humanitarian law within their own communities … also among civilian populations, including by disseminating information about international humanitarian law.
At the outset of the Iraq War in March 2003, Australia’s Department of Defence issued guidance to news organizations regarding the restrictions under IHL placed on the identification of prisoners of war:
Department of Defence is aware that some news organisations have shown images of prisoners of war (POWs) in the course of covering the events of the conflict in Iraq.
Media organisations should be aware of Article 13 of the Geneva Conventions III, which states that POWs must at all times be “protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity”.
Article 27 of the Geneva Conventions IV has the same provisions for civilian detainees and civilian internees. This includes restrictions of photographing and filming POWs, civilian detainees and civilian internees.
Defence requests media organisations “pixilate” the faces of both Coalition and Iraqi prisoners of war.