Switzerland hosts Conference of Parties to Geneva IV
[17 December 2014] - Representatives of 126 High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention met in Geneva today to adopt by consensus a ten-point Declaration recalling applicable international humanitarian law (IHL) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East-Jerusalem. The conference was hosted by Switzerland in its capacity as Depositary of the Geneva Conventions.
The ten-point Declaration adopted by consensus by the Conference today reaffirms fundamental principles of international humanitarian law which all High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War must respect. It emphasizes that these principles also apply to non-state actors. The Declaration reaffirms the outcome documents of two previous conferences of 1999 and 2001 and reiterates legal obligations relating to developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2001.
In his opening statement, the Chairman of the Conference, Ambassador Paul Fivat, noted that through the declaration, the participating States reaffirmed that international humanitarian law and in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention continued to apply in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and needed to be respected for the benefit of affected civilians. Representatives of the ICRC, of UNRWA and of several groups also spoke.
Switzerland, in its capacity as Depositary of the Geneva Conventions and acting as a facilitator, had concluded last week that the Conference would be convened, after consulting High Contracting Parties about this question from 28 July to 3 December 2014. The Depositary undertook these consultations pursuant to a recommendation of the United Nations General Assembly contained in resolution 64/10 of 5 November 2009. While an initial round of consultations in 2009 and 2010 had remained inconclusive, the consultations during the last four months had revealed a cross-regional critical mass of High Contracting Parties requesting the reconvening of a Conference, as had been the case in 1999 and 2001. A small of number of High Contracting Parties expressed their opposition and did not attend the Conference.