Resolution adopted without a vote by the 102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Berlin, 15 October 1999)

The 102nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference, Noting, on the 50th anniversary of the four Geneva Conventions, that these instruments and their two Additional Protocols have become a cornerstone of modern international humanitarian law and have made a significant contribution to its codification,

Concerned however that, after 50 years of trial and practice, humanitarian law remains the most vulnerable point in the credibility of the international legal system, and alarmed therefore by the continued violations of international humanitarian law,

Deeply concerned by the growing number of men, women and children who are killed, wounded, or subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment, and further concerned that civilians, including refugees and internally displaced persons, account for the vast majority of casualties in armed conflicts,

Alarmed by the growing use of children as soldiers in various conflicts throughout the world, in flagrant violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international instruments,

Recalling the resolutions to promote compliance with international humanitarian law adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Conferences of Buenos Aires (76th Conference, 1986) and Canberra (90th Conference, 1993) and the resolutions of the Inter-Parliamentary Council of September 1997 (161st session, Cairo) and September 1998 (163rd session, Moscow),

Commending the activities of the IPU Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law and welcoming the publication of the Handbook for use by parliamentarians entitled "Respect for International Humanitarian Law",

Recalling the recent report of the United Nations Secretary-General entitled "The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict" which sets out 40 recommendations for action,

Welcoming the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court on 17 July 1998 in Rome which, by complementing national criminal justice systems, will help to end the culture of impunity and protect all people against the most egregious violations of humanitarian law,

Recognising that the adoption of the Statute of Rome is a major step forward in the quest to uphold the rule of law and bring to justice perpetrators of the most serious crimes identified in international law: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression,

Recalling that the Statute will also facilitate the investigation and prosecution of crimes of sexual and gender violence including: rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced sterilisation and other forms of sexual violence,

Noting that the International Criminal Court cannot begin its essential work until 60 States have ratified the Rome Statute, and commending, in this connection, those States that have ratified this instrument,

Stressing the serious threat posed by the widespread use of landmines, which have brought death to many innocent civilians and hindered the return of refugees, the provision of infrastructure and reconstruction in the affected areas long after hostilities have ended,

Welcoming the entry into force on 1 March 1999 of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, and its ratification by 87 States,

Concerned by the effects of the uncontrolled transfer of light weapons and small arms, which contributes to exacerbating tensions, increasing the number of civilian victims, prolonging conflicts, hampering the post-conflict reconstruction process and thus undermines respect for international humanitarian law,

Disturbed by the continuing production and existence of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and the threat they pose to international peace and security,

Welcoming the wide adherence to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but noting with concern that adherence to these instruments is not yet universal,

Recognising the importance of the actions of impartial humanitarian organisations and the specific role of the International Committee of the Red Cross, both in peace time and in time of armed conflict, and acknowledging that the latter affords a valuable framework for Governments to meet and discuss the further development and implementation of international humanitarian law,

Stressing that the promotion and observance of international humanitarian law can be ensured only if, in formulating and implementing the relevant policies, governments refrain from bias and from applying double standards in their treatment of violations of humanitarian law and of those responsible for such violations,

Emphasising the importance of the neutrality and impartiality of the mechanisms of international humanitarian law;

Further emphasising that parliaments can play an important and constructive role in creating conditions conducive to the promotion of international humanitarian law, by enacting the necessary legislation and supervising and monitoring its implementation,

I. Geneva Conventions

1. Calls on States which have not already done so to ratify and implement the major instruments of international humanitarian law and international treaties on human rights and refugees, and to strengthen the existing body of international humanitarian law by negotiating, ratifying and implementing appropriate treaties and establishing mechanisms to enhance the protection of civilians in armed conflicts; and to align national laws and regulations with international humanitarian standards;

2. Urges the States concerned to comply strictly and ensure compliance with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international treaties on human rights and refugees, in particular those set out in The Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977;

3. Calls on States to take steps to address effectively other serious repercussions of war on civilians and humanitarian personnel, and to strengthen safety and security requirements for humanitarian personnel, including locally recruited staff;

II. Child soldiers
4. Requests all States to take all feasible measures to ensure that children who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take part in hostilities or military action, and are not recruited under compulsion into the armed forces; and to ensure the early adoption of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict;
III. International Criminal Court
5. Calls on States to support and cooperate with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda in their ongoing efforts to prosecute and try those accused of violating international humanitarian law;

6. Also calls on States to maintain a firm commitment to the ideals of the International Criminal Court and to give it their full co-operation in order to make it a strong and effective institution;

7. Further calls on States to sign and ratify as soon as possible, preferably without reservations, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;

8. Invites member parliaments to pledge to undertake any action and adopt any measure that may encourage all States which have not yet signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to do so as soon as possible;

9. Calls on States to conduct an early review of their laws and regulations and to undertake any necessary amendments or revision in order, as the case may be, to prepare for ratification or to conform with requirements for ratification of the Rome Statute;

IV. Anti-Personnel Mines
10. Also calls on States to accede to or ratify the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines, if they have not yet done so;

11. Requests States which have ratified the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines to take the necessary steps to meet their obligations to destroy stockpiles within four years and to clear mined areas within ten years;

12. Calls on States to assist, at the international level, in efforts to eliminate the use of landmines, and to monitor compliance with the provisions of the Ottawa Convention;

13. Calls on parliaments to make use of existing committees and other mechanisms or establish such bodies if necessary, to monitor and review the implementation of the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines;

14. Condemns those States and non-State actors that produce, use or export these obnoxious weapons in defiance of the Ottawa Convention;

15. Urges States that produce or use this pernicious weapon, to cease production immediately and to provide financial and technical assistance for (i) de-mining efforts, especially in heavily mined areas, (ii) victim assistance programmes, including rehabilitation and retraining activities, and (iii) mine awareness activities to reduce the risk of accidents;

V. Small Arms
16. Urges States to halt arms transfers to parties that target relief workers, undermine humanitarian assistance and violate human rights and international humanitarian law;
VI. Other weapons
17. Calls for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the early conclusion of a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;
VII. Follow-up
18. Appeals to the members of the international community to attach greater importance to the prevention of wars and crises and to make appropriate provision for such prevention in their foreign, trade, security and development policies;

19. Calls on governments and parliaments to intensify their efforts for the dissemination, teaching and wider appreciation of international humanitarian law;

20. Invites parliamentarians of all countries to ensure that the matter of compliance with and enforcement of international humanitarian law is regularly considered by and brought to the attention of their fellow members during sittings of parliamentary committees or plenary sessions of their respective parliaments, a procedure that would afford an opportunity to consider whether reservations made at the time of ratification continue to be justified;

21. Further invites parliaments to ensure the widest possible dissemination of the Handbook for Parliamentarians entitled Respect for International Humanitarian Law among parliamentarians and persons who work with them to promote respect for international humanitarian law; and to this end to have the Handbook translated into national languages;

22. Requests the IPU Committee to Promote Respect for International Humanitarian Law to monitor implementation of this resolution and to report to the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 168th session in 2000.

* The delegations of Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, China, Cuba and the Syrian Arab Republic expressed reservations on the provisions relating to the International Criminal Court. The latter three delegations also expressed reservations regarding the provisions relating to landmines.

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