United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 144. Ensuring Respect for International Humanitarian Law Erga Omnes
In the Baptist Churches case
in 1989, a US District Court considered an application for an injunction to prevent the deportation of Central American nationals seeking temporary refuge based on, inter alia
, Articles 1, 3 and 45 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV. The plaintiffs argued that “by deporting Salvadorans and Guatemalans to countries where Article 3 violations are occurring, the United States … failed to ‘respect and ensure respect’ for the Convention within the meaning of Article 1”.
Reiterating criteria that had to be met by a treaty in order to be self-executing and applying them to Article 1 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, the Court stated:
Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions is not a self-executing treaty provision. The language used does not impose any specific obligations on the signatory nations, nor does it provide any intelligible guidelines for judicial enforcement … The treaty provision is “phrased in broad generalities” … and contains no “rules by which private rights may be determined”.
In 1979, in reaction to the appeal made by the ICRC to ensure respect for international humanitarian law with regard to the conflict in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, the United States stated: “We … wish to endorse the appeal issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross.”