Some reflections on the origins of the 1977 Geneva Protocols
George H. Aldrich
Etudes et essais sur le droit international humanitaire et sur les principes de la Croix-Rouge : en l'honneur de Jean Pictet = Studies and essays on international humanitarian law and Red Cross principles : in honour of Jean Pictet
Genève : CICR ; La Haye : Nijhoff, 1984
Reflecting on his experience as head of the US Delegation to the 1974-1977 Diplomatic Conference which produced the 1977 Geneva Protocols, the author argues that several factors came together to facilitate the creation of the Additional Protocol (API) and Additional Protocol II (APII) to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Firstly, the US government was eager to show its willingness to comply with modern expectations of armed conflict due to the public reaction to the war in Vietnam. Secondly, the Soviet Union and the US realized that they had similar interests in ensuring that conferences would not adopt provisions neither country could accept. The author argues that the US pushed for compromise and consensus as they recognized the futility of adopting rules that the Soviet Union would not accept in practice. Finally, the author argues that developing countries, informed by their experience with decolonization and wars of national liberation, emasculated the text of APII to ensure that it would not legitimize rebel factions within their states. The author argues that compromises like this ensured that the treaties were broadly accepted. [Summary by students at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law (IHRP)].