[JURIST] In the wake of the breakout of hostilities in Iraq, the International Committee of the Red Cross Thursday called on all warring parties to abide strictly by the rules and principles of international humanitarian law:
The ICRC reminds all States party to the Geneva Conventions of their obligation not only to respect but also to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, whose main purpose is to minimize the effects of war on people not or no longer taking part in hostilities, and to protect their lives and physical integrity.Read the full ICRC press release.
The requirement that persons not taking part in hostilities be treated with humanity in all circumstances is a basic principle of humanitarian law. Attacks directed at civilians are prohibited, as are attacks that do not distinguish between military objectives and civilians/civilian objects. In the course of military operations, all parties are obliged to take every feasible precaution to avoid, and in any case to minimize, civilian casualties and damage to civilian property.
The warring parties have the duty to ensure that the basic needs of the civilian population are met as far as possible. They must authorize and facilitate impartial humanitarian relief operations and ensure the safety of medical and humanitarian personnel. They must see to it that the sick and wounded have access to adequate medical care. The red cross and red crescent emblems must be respected by all parties. All combatants and civilians detained must be spared and protected against abuses in all circumstances and without discrimination; they must be treated in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Geneva Conventions.