Road to Nowhere? The Future for a Declaration on Fundamental Standards of Humanity
Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 43-72, 2012
37 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2012 Last revised: 3 Dec 2013
Date Written: January 18, 2012
In the years following the adoption of the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions in 1977, debate emerged regarding the extant lacunae in the international rules relating to armed conflict. It was argued that there were gaps in international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law with regards to so-called ‘grey-zone conflicts’ – armed conflicts that did not reach the minimum threshold of either Protocol II or Common Article 3. Therefore, it was proposed that a declaration outlining the minimum humanitarian standards applicable in all situations of violence and conflict be adopted. By 1990, this debate had crystallised around the Turku Declaration on Minimum Humanitarian Standards. However, progress 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 to use the current terminology. Over the years, the scope and content of the fundamental standards of humanity have become clearer, yet the adoption of a document on these fundamental standards is no more imminent than when the issue first moved to the United Nations. This article will therefore examine why and how this apparently vital piece of international policy has stalled.
Keywords: international humanitarian law, minimum humanitarian standards, fundamental standards of humanity, non-international armed conflicts, humanitarian emergency situations
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation