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Consultations between the Slovenian and German IHL committees

On Wednesday, 12 May 2021, the second round of consultations between the Slovenian and German international humanitarian law (IHL) committees was held in a virtual format. The first round took place in November 2018.

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Participants of the consultations between the Slovenian and German IHL committees | Author Ministrstvo za zunanje zadeve

The consultations were headed by a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chair of the Slovenian IHL Committee Mateja Grašek, and Director of the Liaison Office of Germany’s Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance Heike Spieker.

A number of experts from Slovenia took part in the consultations: Katja Straže and Tatjana Šneberger from the Ministry of Defence, Nataša Komolec from the Ministry of Culture, Andraž Zidar from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nuška Jerman from the Slovenian Red Cross, Anica Mikuš Kos, Prof. Vasilka Sancin from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ljubljana, Prof. Bojko Bučar from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana, and Ingrid Omahna from the Centre for European Perspective.

In her presentation, a representative of Doctors without Borders drew attention to the multiple alarming attacks (in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria) on health facilities and medical and humanitarian personnel, and the all too frequent violations of international humanitarian law on the ground. She proposed the establishment and consistent reinforcement of the concept of individual criminal responsibility for violation of the humanitarian law.

Prof. Marauhn focused on the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission’s mandate (investigating facts which allegedly constitute violations of international humanitarian law, offering good offices) and outlined the first case on which the Commission worked at the request of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2017.

As regards the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Prof. Sancin stressed that it operates as a mechanism for respecting and implementing the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  as well as by conducting periodic reviews on how the states parties respect their obligations. She also pointed out the complementarity principle of the human rights law and the international humanitarian law stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the application of the Covenant in armed conflicts.
As one of the participants of the project, Andraž Zidar presented the British Red Cross Handbook on the protection of journalists and media professionals in armed conflicts. 

The two committees exchanged expert opinions and practices, raising the fundamental question of how to enhance the knowledge, promotion and implementation of international humanitarian law and its mechanisms, such as the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.  
Slovenia’s efforts undertaken in pursuit of this objective include the recent publication of a collection of papers on humanitarian law and the release of a publication containing the first official Slovenian translation of the Geneva Conventions and their Supplementary Protocols. International humanitarian law courses at the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana also contribute to increasing the knowledge of contemporary IHL topics. From now on, military and police officers leaving for international missions and operations will be able to gain additional knowledge at the newly established Peacekeeping Operations Training Centre. The Slovenian Red Cross has been successfully involved in the IHL training process organised by the Centre for its personnel and volunteers. Consultations between national committees mark another step in the right direction and will be further upgraded with an international event to be held during Slovenia’s EU Council presidency.

Germany is enhancing established methods of broadening the knowledge, promotion and implementation of international humanitarian law by organising summer schools and voluntary reports underlining the IHL activities in the German landscape and at the international level.

The International Committee of the Red Cross holds up the consultations between Slovenia and Germany as an example of excellent practices contributing to enhanced implementation of international humanitarian law at the national level and supplementing the debates on contemporary topics in this field.