ICRC releases its Direct Participation in Hostilities study

* Nils Melzer (Legal Adviser, International Committee of the Red Cross), “Clarifying the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities” (June 1, 2009)

The ICRC has released its long-anticipated report on the meaning of “direct participation in hostilities” (DPH).  A link to the report, as well as links to a corresponding “Q&A” document and to the reports generated by a series of preliminary meetings on this topic, are posted here.

I will circulate a summary of the substance of the report tomorrow (I hope). In the meantime, I will simply note what the ICRC has to say about the sponsorship and nature of the report in its opening pages:

“First, the Interpretive Guidance is an expression of solely the ICRC’s views. While international humanitarian law relating to the notion of direct participation in hostilities was examined over several years with a group of eminent legal experts, to whom the ICRC owes a huge debt of gratitude, the positions enunciated are the ICRC’s alone. Second, while reflecting the ICRC’s views, the Interpretive Guidance is not and cannot be a text of a legally binding nature. Only State agreements (treaties) or State practice followed out of a sense of legal obligation on a certain issue (custom) can produce binding law.” (p. 6)

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