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Thirty years on, 1977 Additional Protocols remain key to protecting civilians in conflict

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ICRC Press Release No. 07/60

Geneva (ICRC) - Friday 8 June will be the 30th anniversary of Protocols I and II additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is highlighting the importance of these landmark treaties through a series of special events.

In Geneva, two exhibitions aim to raise public awareness and understanding of the continuing relevance of the two protocols. In Bangkok, Beijing, Bogotá, New Delhi, Sydney and elsewhere, a number of regional conferences, seminars and media events are to be held.

"The Additional Protocols provide a crucial legal framework for the protection of civilians in armed conflict," said Philip Spoerri, director of the ICRC's legal division. "In this respect they remain as relevant in conflicts today as they were when they were adopted 30 years ago."

The 1977 Additional Protocols were drawn up essentially as a response to the increased suffering of civilians in armed conflict due in part to developments in weapons technology. They introduced essential rules relating to the conduct of hostilities and the methods and means of warfare, the aim of which was to strengthen protection for civilians. In particular, they formulated the important principle of distinction between civilians and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives.

The 1977 Additional Protocols were also a response to the proliferation of internal armed conflicts. Indeed, Additional Protocol II was the first treaty ever devoted exclusively to the protection of the victims of such conflicts.

At present, 167 States are party to Additional Protocol I and 163 States to Additional Protocol II. This makes the 1977 Additional Protocols among the most widely accepted legal instruments in the world.

For further information, please contact:

Claudia McGoldrick, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 20 63 or +41 79 217 32 16
or visit our website: www.icrc.org