Topic: The obligation to respect and to ensure respect in all circumstances pursuant to Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions of August 1949 and their Additional Protocols: an Australian weapons law perspective

Presenter: Eve Massingham - PhD Candidate, TC Beirne School of Law

Abstract: Pursuant to Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions of August 1949 and Article 1 of Additional Protocols I and III to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 and 2005 respectively, ‘[t]he High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect’ for the Conventions and Protocol ‘in all circumstances’. These documents - which form the central tenets of international humanitarian law – establish the minimum standards applicable to the conduct of armed conflicts. This project will provide an analysis of this overarching obligation, with particular emphasis on Australia’s record of respecting and ensuring respect for the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, and international humanitarian law more broadly, when it comes to weapons. A country and thematically specific analysis will add content to the understanding of this obligation (including its scope and the methods by which compliance might be achieved), as well as providing a critique of one country’s record as regards this complex area of law. Weapons, as the case study focus, has been selected as the prism through which to conduct this analysis because the choice of weapon is so central to the ability of armed personnel to comply with the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law – distinction, proportionality and precaution.

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