On thirtieth anniversary of Geneva Convention's two additional protocols protecting civilians, UN Secretary-General calls for universal adherence


The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

Friday, 8 June, is the thirtieth anniversary of Protocols I and II additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The 1977 Additional Protocols supplement the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and provide very important legal protections for civilians and others in both international and internal armed conflicts.

Additional Protocol I is significant for strengthening the protection of civilians during international armed conflict. Balancing both military and humanitarian needs, Additional Protocol I brings together two formerly separate areas of law concerning armed conflict: the law concerning the conduct of hostilities and the law protecting civilians and those who no longer take an active part in hostilities. It sets forth essential rules reminding parties that the methods and means of warfare are not unlimited, and prohibits the use of weapons that are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering. It also sets forth the principle of distinction, according to which parties to a conflict must distinguish between the civilian population and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives, and may only direct operations against military objectives.

Additional Protocol II is the first treaty of its kind to address internal armed conflicts or "civil wars". It prohibits attacks on the civilian population and objects indispensable for their survival. It also sets forth protections for those not or no longer taking part in hostilities.

At present, 167 States are party to Additional Protocol I and 163 States to Additional Protocol II.

The Secretary-General calls on all States currently not party to the 1977 Additional Protocols to become party to these instruments.

For information media - not an official record