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Application of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law in an Armed Conflict

04 October 2019
Scientific Workshop

Event Description



On October 4, 2019, in Sanremo, Italy, the International and Comparative Law Research Center in cooperation with theInternational Institute of Humanitarian Law International Institute of Humanitarian Law held a workshop on “Application of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law in an Armed Conflict”.

The purpose of the workshop was to take a closer look at the complex relationship between the two sets of rules, in particular problems arising in this regard in the situation of an armed conflict. This issue has repeatedly become the subject of examination in international courts, and the current practice, far from being harmonized, reveals challenges that attempts at their co-application may cause both to the integrity of these rules themselves and to institutions seeking to apply them to armed conflicts and in their aftermath. This is in particular exemplified by the practice of the European Court of Human Rights that strives to extend the European Convention on Human Rights provisions to an armed conflict.

Specifically, in the context of the ECtHR and the ECHR the following questions may arise:

  • Is the ECHR still applied (and does it entail obligations) in an armed conflict, by being extended on an extraterritorial basis to the territory of another state, if military activities take place abroad?
  • If the Convention is still applied, how does one establish the scope of states’ obligations (taking into account the fact that it is clearly impossible to observe all guarantees in a battlefield)?
  • How can the Convention be applied if its provisions contravene applicable IHL rules?
  • If IHL is applied in relation to the Convention as a lex specialis, what impact does the Convention have upon IHL rules in this regard? How does the application of the ECHR and IHL as a lex specialis differ from the application of IHL per se?
  • What features should a forum competent to apply IHL possess? In what way (and to what degree of detail) should the facts be established in order to apply IHL rules in a correct manner?

The very same questions and difficulties may arise in relation to other instruments and institutions. These and other questions were discussed in two consecutive panels composed of representatives of academia, international organizations, courts and tribunals, State authorities.

The welcome addresses were delivered by: 

  • Giorgio Battisti, Vice-President, International Institute of Humanitarian Law;
  • Victoria Manko, General Director, International and Comparative Law Research Center;
  • Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, Professor of International Law, Member of the Council, International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

The first panel was dedicated to interplay between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law in an armed conflict. The second one – to application of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law by international courts and tribunals. Each panel was followed by Q&A session.

As a result of the seminar, a collection of the materials was released.

Presentations were made by

Dieter Fleck
Former Director International Agreements & Policy, German Ministry of Defence, Honorary President of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War, Member of the Advisory Board of the Amsterdam Center for International Law
Richard Bruce Jackson
Special Assistant, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General for Law of War Matters (Ret.), Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law Center
Peter Michael Kremer
QC, former Chief of Appeals and Acting Deputy Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
Jean-Paul Laborde
Roving Ambassador, Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean, Director, Centre of Expertise on Counter-Terrorism Strategies and Actions Special Military School of St-Cyr
Ady Niv
Former legal officer at the UN International Tribunals, attorney at the Department of Special International Affairs, Ministry of Justice of Israel, and legal officer and prosecutor at Military Advocate General’s Corps
Marco Sassòli
Professor of International Law at the University of Geneva, Director of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
Natalia Sokolova
Doctor of Law, Associate Professor, Head of the Department of International Law, Academic Director of the Research Institute, Kutafin Moscow State Law University (MSAL)
Wenqi Zhu
Professor of international law, Renmin University School of law, Council Member of the Board of the Chinese Society of International Law and EC Member of the Asian Society of International Law
Cordula Droege
Head of the Operational Law Unit, Legal Division, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Anatoly Kovler
Professor Kovler is now serving as Head of the Foreign Law and Comparative Law Center at the Institute of Legislation and Comparative Law under the Government of the Russian Federation. He was elected judge of the European Court of Human Rights in 1999 and served until 2012.

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