Convenios de Ginebra

El pasado 12 de agosto el mundo conmemoraró el 70 Aniversario del nacimiento de un conjunto de cuatro tratados internacionales, de los pocos que han sido ratificados universalmente por los Estados: los Convenios de Ginebra de 1949. La efeméride no es menor en la región latinoamericana ya que los países del subcontinente mantienen un compromiso inquebrantable con el derecho internacional humanitario (DIH), la rama del derecho que establece que en toda guerra hay límites que no pueden ser propasados.

“Sin los Convenios, estaríamos peor. A setenta años de su firma, siguen siendo adecuados en muchos aspectos, pero necesitan más apoyo, defensores más acérrimos y un espíritu de innovación para incursionar en nuevas formas de avanzar hacia una mejor protección de las personas”, ha señalado el presidente del CICR, Peter Maurer.…  Seguir leyendo »

Se conmemora hoy 22 de agosto la firma del primer convenio de Ginebra (1864) adoptado para «aliviar la suerte de la condición de heridos y enfermos de los ejércitos en campaña», moción defendida por el suizo Jean-Henri Dunant, encaminada a limitar el sufrimiento de las víctimas de guerra mediante una acción humanitaria «que sería llevada a cabo por una organización independiente y neutral, la Cruz Roja». Primero de los convenios que llevan este nombre –se actualizó de manera significativa en 1906, 1929,1949 y 1977–, constituye la base sobre la que descansan las normas de derecho internacional para la protección de víctimas de los conflictos armados.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Do all Syrians qualify for asylum, because parts of their country are in the grip of civil war?’ Illustration: Matt Kenyon/matt kenyon

How far we have come from the warm generosity of the German summer to the cold hard reality of a Nordic winter. Europe’s internal borders have been closing; its external borders are being reinforced. And governments are looking for ways to foot the bill for receiving and integrating all the new arrivals, many of whom have crossed deserts and seas in the hope of finding a safe haven in Europe.

The German finance minister has mooted an EU-wide tax on petrol. Danish MPs are debating a law to allow the confiscation of asylum-seekers’ valuables to help pay for their keep. It turns out the Swiss already do this.…  Seguir leyendo »

At his news conference in Moscow last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to recognize that my client, pilot Nadiya Savchenko, and 30 other Ukrainian service members being held in Russian jails are prisoners of war. This challenge to yet another universal norm demands a strong response from other nations.

Savchenko was captured on June 18 by pro-Russian separatists near Luhansk while on a mission to rescue wounded Ukrainian soldiers. She was dressed in a Ukrainian military uniform and carried a firearm, clearly making her subject to Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention, which delineates criteria for POW status.

On June 19, a video of her interrogation appeared on the Internet; she was not mistreated but was handcuffed to a metal pipe and questioned on military subjects such as the deployment of Ukrainian forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

A hundred and fifty years ago to the day, the first Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field was adopted, enshrining the idea in international law that even in times of war, a certain degree of humanity must be preserved.

Switzerland and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which together helped to secure acceptance for international humanitarian law on the world stage at that time, are now calling for stricter compliance with this principle, as there remains a lack of effective mechanisms for encouraging compliance around the globe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace exactamente 150 años se adoptó la primera Convención de Ginebra para aliviar la suerte de los militares heridos en campaña, que consagraba en derecho internacional la idea de que, incluso en tiempos de guerra, es indispensable preservar un mínimo de humanidad. Actualmente, Suiza y el Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja (CICR), que en aquel entonces contribuyeron a impulsar el derecho internacional humanitario en el plano internacional, trabajan para promover el respeto de este principio en todo el mundo, dado que siguen sin existir mecanismos eficaces que garanticen su cumplimiento.

Evidentemente, las guerras contemporáneas no tienen ya nada que ver con las masacres del siglo XIX.…  Seguir leyendo »

The British government will be held in contempt of court later this week if it does not physically produce a prisoner of war whom its special forces captured in 2004 and then handed over to American soldiers.

The current legal drama began in February 2004, when two Pakistani rice merchants, Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatullah Ali, disappeared on a business trip to Iran. They were held incommunicado for nearly a year before their families learned that they had been captured by British forces in Iraq and then turned over to American soldiers.

The two men were transferred in accordance with an American-British-Australian agreement mandating observance of the Geneva Conventions and stipulating that all prisoners must be returned, if requested, to the country that originally transferred them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Desde siempre -Francisco de Vitoria en el siglo XVI, Hugo Grocio en el XVII- los juristas han tratado de racionalizar el hecho brutal, repetido, de la guerra y someterlo tímida y literariamente al derecho: la guerra justa, el derecho a la guerra, o el derecho de guerra, desarrollado en los tratados del derecho humanitario internacional dirigido a limitar el sufrimiento pero no el horror de la guerra en sí, inevitable.

La lectura de los cuatro Convenios de Ginebra de 1949 y protocolos adicionales produce un cierto desasosiego, como si fueran el envés de la guerra, su frontera más próxima desde la que aún hiere la metralla: que se prohíban los ataques indiscriminados cuando sea de prever que causarán incidentalmente muertos y heridos entre la población civil, o daños en bienes de carácter civil, o ambas cosas, que serían excesivos en relación con la ventaja militar concreta y directamente prevista; que no quepa matar, herir o capturar a un adversario valiéndose de medios pérfidos, como los que, «apelando a la buena fe de un adversario con intención de traicionarla, dan a entender que éste tiene derecho a protección o que está obligado a concederla», mientras son lícitas las estratagemas para inducir a error a un adversario o hacerle cometer imprudencias; la prohibición de disparar durante el descenso -sólo- a quien se lance en paracaídas; o la de lanzar minas antipersonas que no se ajusten a lo dispuesto sobre su autodestrucción y autodesactivación en determinado anexo técnico.…  Seguir leyendo »

I have worked in human rights for 60 years. I was a member of one of the first rehabilitation teams to enter the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 and have since continued to help survivors of extreme brutality and human rights violations. At the Helen Bamber Foundation I see on a daily basis victims of torture, human trafficking for sexual exploitation, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

I find myself compelled to speak out publicly in response to comments by the immigration minister, Phil Woolas. Calling for a review of the Geneva conventions – which he described as outdated – Woolas argued that «a significant number of people who claim asylum are doing so for broadly economic reasons».…  Seguir leyendo »

By P.X. Kelley, commandant of the Marine Corps from 1983 to 1987 and Robert F. Turner, co-founder of the University of Virginia’s Center for National Security Law and a former chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security (THE WASHINGTON POST, 26/07/07):

One of us was appointed commandant of the Marine Corps by President Ronald Reagan; the other served as a lawyer in the Reagan White House and has vigorously defended the constitutionality of warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps, presidential signing statements and many other controversial aspects of the war on terrorism. But we cannot in good conscience defend a decision that we believe has compromised our national honor and that may well promote the commission of war crimes by Americans and place at risk the welfare of captured American military forces for generations to come.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, is the author of ‘Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier’s Fight for America From Baghdad to Washington’ (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25/09/06):

IN 2002, I attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Ga. At “the Schoolhouse,” every new Army infantry officer spent six months studying the basics of his craft, including the rules of war.

I remember a seasoned senior officer explaining the importance of the Geneva Conventions. He said, “When an enemy fighter knows he’ll be treated well by United States forces if he is captured, he is more likely to give up.”

A year later on the streets of Baghdad, I saw countless insurgents surrender when faced with the prospect of a hot meal, a pack of cigarettes and air-conditioning.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Sidney Bluementhal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton (THE GUARDIAN, 21/09/06):

President Bush’s torture policy has provoked perhaps the greatest schism between a president and the military in American history. From the outside, this battle royal over his abrogation of the Geneva conventions appears as a shadow war. But since the supreme court’s ruling in Hamdan v Rumsfeld in June, deciding that Bush’s kangaroo court commissions for detainees «violate both the UCMJ [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and the four Geneva conventions», the struggle has been forced into the open.

On September 6 Bush made his case for torture, offering as validity the interrogation under what he called an «alternative set of procedures» of an al-Qaida operative named Abu Zubaydah.…  Seguir leyendo »

By James Harkin (THE GUARDIAN, 08/04/06):

Maybe it is because the British watch so many old war films that they care so much about the Geneva convention. This week the defence secretary, John Reid, briefly suggested a rewrite and was promptly rewarded with a volley of journalistic brickbats. But the idea that it needs to be looked at afresh is hardly surprising, given that it has become a little toothless. Its revision to deal with «non-state actors» has been whispered in policymaking circles for years, and Reid’s speech was no more than one extra murmur: much more significant was his suggestion that we should tinker with international law to accommodate pre-emptive military strikes.…  Seguir leyendo »

By John Reid, secretary of state for defence (THE GUARDIAN, 05/04/06):

I believe political leaders have an obligation to ask difficult questions and that is why I am keen to encourage debate about the international law framework (International laws hinder UK troops – Reid, April 4). My motivation is from the centre left. I am not in favour of legal exceptionalism but I believe that the current framework may be inadequate, not least because it does not always enable the international community to act effectively against internal suppression, practised or threatened, on the scale of mass killings or genocide – illustrated by Rwanda and Sudan among others.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Jonathan Freedland (THE GUARDIAN, 05/04/06):

What would the sober-minded Washington press corps make of the treatment their secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and her British counterpart, Jack Straw, have received in the British press this last week? Where US newspapers favour long disquisitions on the state of geopolitics and the balance of forces in the Gulf, the British papers have been getting steamed up over the Jack and Condi love-in.

Several, including the Guardian, ran photo love stories – with speech bubbles imagining their private thoughts and secret longings. Here was yesterday’s offering from the Sun, on hearing that America’s top diplomat had made the foreign secretary a most generous offer while the two were airborne.…  Seguir leyendo »