Road to Nowhere? The Future for a Declaration on Fundamental Standards of Humanity
32 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2011
Date Written: April 14, 2011
For the past thirty years, there has been debate regarding the adoption of a declaration on minimum humanitarian standards or ‘fundamental standards of humanity’ as it is now called – basic rules to be applied in all situations of internal and international conflict, unrest and civil tensions. By 1990, this debate had crystallised around the Turku Declaration on Minimum Humanitarian Standards. Progression on the declaration quickly stalled once discussion was moved to the United Nations. Since 1995, there have been nine reports by the Secretary-General on the question of fundamental standards of humanity, prepared pursuant to resolutions and declarations of the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the UN Commission on Human Rights. The question of the scope and content of minimum humanitarian standards – or fundamental standards of humanity as they are now termed – has become clearer with the growth of international criminal case law and works such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) study into customary international humanitarian law. Yet the adoption of a document that outlines these fundamental standards is no more imminent than when the issue first moved to the United Nations. It is thus the intent of this article to examine why and how this apparently vital piece of international law policy has stalled, whether such a document is actually necessary, and possible alternate mechanisms for how the declaration might be adopted by the international community.
Keywords: International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law
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