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Verity Robson

Legal Counsellor, UK Mission to the United Nations, Geneva

29th March 2019 Geneva, Switzerland

New UK Report on Implementation of International Humanitarian Law

Here in Geneva yesterday we celebrated the publication earlier this month of the UK’s first ever report on national implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL).  Alongside UK Ambassador Julian Braithwaite and Michael Meyer (Head of International Law at the British Red Cross), I spoke at a reception for IHL experts from permanent missions and international organisations in Geneva, to explain what the report is about and what we hope its dissemination will help achieve.

Publication by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office followed more than a year of consultation and drafting with the other members of the UK’s National IHL Committee including, most importantly, the British Red Cross.  Michael had championed for many years the idea that the UK should throw open its curtains and let light in on our domestic implementation of international legal obligations, both for greater transparency and to encourage other states to follow suit.

The report collects in a single document the ways in which the UK has implemented its IHL obligations.  It also sets out our position on a number of current policy priorities, such as our Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and the Safe Schools Declaration.  And it includes links to other key documents in the UK IHL corpus, including our Manual on the Law of Armed Conflict, making it easy for interested readers to access and understand the British approach.

I am proud to be working for a government which is so firmly committed to promoting and upholding a rules-based international order.  While states are sovereign actors, there are clear benefits in establishing shared rules, which encourage predictable behaviour and create the right conditions for accountability and the rule of law.  Proper implementation of, and compliance with, the laws of armed conflict are an important part of that system.

I hope that the publication of our national report inspires other states to produce something similar.  Such self-examination by states can only lead to increased transparency, greater dialogue and stronger compliance.

About Verity Robson

Verity is a diplomat and an international lawyer, and writes here about current intersections between those fields in Geneva.

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