Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
In 2005, in an answer to a written question in Parliament, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated: “It is the Government’s clear line that the work against terrorism must be conducted with full respect for international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights.”
In 2008, in the National Strategy for International Peace- and Security-building Activities, Sweden’s Government stated:
Swedish participation in efforts relating to peace- and security-building shall always be based on international law. The protection of and respect for international law, including international human rights law and international humanitarian law, is central. This should permeate acts in all phases of a mission, including the formulation of mandate.
In 2008, in a statement before the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the status of the 1977 Additional Protocols made on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the representative of Sweden stated: “Respect for, and implementation of, international humanitarian law rests primarily with each [S]tate, but it must be recalled that all parties to an armed conflict must respect humanitarian law.”
In 2009, in a speech on how to enhance respect by non-State actors on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, Sweden’s Secretary of State stated:
I wish to underline the importance of integrating respect for international humanitarian law in responding to crisis. From decision-making on crisis management to the training of personnel and in delivering political messages, we need to incorporate respect for international law. In other words: the norms are not to be dealt with in isolation.
… I believe that there is no doubt to anyone in this room that our personnel should respect IHL and human rights in the field. And also that a key task is to promote such respect by the parties to a conflict. What we need to ensure[, ]however[, is] – and here is room for improvement – that our missions and operations have the relevant advisers in the field. And also that we at a political level back up the operational level with clear political messages against violations and impunity.
[emphasis in original]
In 2010, in its report to the UN Secretary-General on the status of the 1977 Additional Protocols, Sweden stated:
During the Swedish Presidency of the European Union, in the second semester of 2009, international humanitarian law was a priority and a number of initiatives were taken to strengthen and mainstream IHL.
b. The EU adopted Council conclusions promoting compliance with international humanitarian law.
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991) notes: “The  IV Hague Convention … provides that contracting powers shall give their land forces instructions that comply with the Convention.”
The manual adds: “For the Swedish defence forces, the commander-in-chief has laid down eight servicemen’s rules pointing out what every combatant must bear in mind in combat situations.”