Practice Relating to Rule 142. Instruction in International Humanitarian Law within Armed Forces
Kenya’s LOAC Manual (1997) notes:
The need for dissemination is as old as International Humanitarian Law itself. The law can only be respected if it is known.
To be effective, dissemination must take place in peacetime. It is too late for dissemination once a conflict has started since the authorities concerned have by then turned to questions of greater priority that may overwhelm any argument in favour of humanitarian conduct.
It is not enough for States to ratify the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols; besides the legal obligation for dissemination they contain, there must also be a genuine political will to apply them. Their content and “directions for use” must be known so that those responsible for their implementation take the appropriate steps at the proper time. For this reason, their dissemination is mandatory, as ignorance of International Humanitarian Law can cost human lives.
The manual further explains: “Behaviour is the reflection of training. This means that all members of a fighting force must undergo training such as to ensure the enforcement of the existing rules at all levels of the military hierarchy.”