Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Burundi’s Regulations on International Humanitarian Law (2007) states:
By ratifying these treaties [the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols], Burundi has pledged to respect them and ensure respect for them …
The treaties and conventions stipulate that States parties must “respect and ensure respect” for the obligations which ensue. This means in particular:
- to respect and ensure respect for the content of these texts;
- to implement the requirements of these treaties and conventions into domestic law;
- to incorporate the content of these texts into different programs of instruction at different levels of training, both in the armed forces and in the civilian sphere.
The Regulations adds: “These various tasks must be carried out by the different branches of the State (parliament, government, legislature …).”
The Regulations also states:
The respect for the law of war by soldiers depends on several factors, of which the most important are prevention and repression. Regarding prevention, this includes in particular … dissemination: [through] initial instruction and training.
In 2008, at the opening of the Seminar on Human Rights and IHL for the High Command of the National Defence Force, a spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defence and Former Combatants stated:
The unfortunate cyclical conflicts which our country has experienced have shown us that the failure to respect international humanitarian law has caused the loss of human lives which could have been spared, as well as huge material destructions. We should constantly remember that war, through military operations, is itself subject to limits, and that its means and methods are not at all unlimited, but rather governed by law.
… [T]he victories for which the FDN [National Defence Force] is preparing itself does not concern the conquest of hills and valleys but rather a true conquest of the minds of the population … [W]e are confident that the key for this bold ambition is certainly the respect for the civilian population, regarding both its physical integrity and its rights and objects. It is this humanitarian and responsible spirit which has to guide the decision making by all commanders anywhere and at all times.
Furthermore, within a national political context directed at the reconciliation of the Burundian people, the contribution of any serviceman shall be to carry out the missions assigned to him in strict respect for the laws and regulations. He must constantly have in mind the respect for persons and their objects.
Burundi’s Regulations on International Humanitarian Law (2007) states: “The commander must … ensure that … the law of war is effectively respected.”
The Regulations also states that “[c]ontrolling the execution of orders [by the commander] has the purpose of … ensuring that subordinates respect and ensure respect for the law of war”.