A critique of the ICRC's updated commentary to the First Geneva Convention : arming medical personnel and the loss of protected status
Host item entries:
Georgia journal of international and comparative law, Vol. 45, no. 3, Spring 2017, p. 495-511
Nicholas W. Mull
This article was written in conjunction with the author’s participation in a conference at the University of Georgia Dean Rusk Center for International Law as a government practitioner of the law of war to discuss concerns with the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) update to the Commentary of the First Geneva Convention released in spring of 2016. The updated commentary is in error on three issues regarding medical operations: one, that medical personnel can lose protected status by carrying larger than light personal weapons; two, that medical facilities can lose protected status solely by virtue of being placed in proximity to legitimate military objectives; and third, it infers that once protected status for medical personnel and facilities is lost due to committing acts “harmful to the enemy” it cannot be regained by a full restoration of humanitarian duties. The author uses his experience and knowledge of military operations to help inform the legal discussion, which makes conclusions that better advance humanitarian interests in combat than those made by the ICRC.