The role of national law in the implementation of international humanitarian law
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
Jean Pictet believed that in order to be enforceable, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) has to be realistic in its restrictions. The author outlines the actions states must take given the status quo of weak international enforcement, delineates obstacles to effective IHL implementation on the ground, and proposes potential solutions to these obstacles. Working sequentially, states must disseminate and implement IHL doctrine, recognizing the different levels of implementation: legislative, administrative, and practical. Effective implementation requires legal expertise to be available domestically, especially at the administrative level to ensure consistent, competent interpretation of relevant IHL. Recognizing that there is still much research to be done on national implementation, the author then outlines potential stumbling blocks for effective IHL application: national awareness of any particular IHL issues, understanding of the highly complex language and implementation of IHL, bureaucratic inertia, countervailing interests revolving around military or state sovereignty, and consistency in translation into the national language. In turn, there are steps that may be taken to address these obstacles specifically, including stronger dissemination of information at all levels of engagement, international financial and intellectual implementation assistance, international pressure or motivation via a prestige/ranking system, or the installation of control mechanisms such as biannual progress reports. [Summary by students at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law (IHRP)].