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ICRC: The ICRC acts as the guardian of international humanitarian law, a complex role that is closely connected with its own foundation and was later formally entrusted to it by the international community. The article presents various aspects of this role and examines its scope in the contemporary context. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is known first and foremost for its field operations in aid of victims of armed conflict and internal violence all over the world. Less well-known is the scope of its role as “guardian” of international humanitarian law, the law applicable in situations of armed conflict. This complex function is closely connected with the founding of the ICRC and was subsequently formally entrusted to it by the international community. This special role of the ICRC is now formally recognized in the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement , which have been adopted both by the components of the Movement and by the States party to the Geneva Conventions, that is, practically all the worlds ’States. Article 5 of the Statutes states that the role of the ICRC is “to undertake the tasks incumbent upon it under the Geneva Conventions, to work for the faithful application of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts and to take cognizance of any complaints based on alleged breaches of that law” (Article 5.2c), and also “to work for the understanding and dissemination of knowledge of international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts and to prepare any development thereof” (Article 5.2g). FUNCTIONS OF ICRC: – the “monitoring” function – i.e., constant reappraisal of humanitarian rules to ensure that they are geared to the reality of conflict situations, and preparing for their adaptation and development when necessary; – the “catalyst” function – i.e., stimulating, especially within groups of governmental and other experts, discussion of problems encountered and possible solutions, whether such solutions involve changes to the law or otherwise; – the “promotion” function – i.e., advocacy in favour of the law, helping to disseminate and teach it, and urging States to adopt national measures necessary for its implementation;

– the “guardian angel” function – i.e., defending international humanitarian law against legal developments that disregard its existence or might tend to weaken it; – the “direct action” function – i.e., making a direct and practical contribution to application of the law in situations of armed conflict; – the “watchdog” function – i.e., raising the alarm, first among the States and other parties directly concerned in an armed conflict, and thereafter among the international community as a whole, whenever serious violations of the law occur. LIST OF PROTECTED PERSON: • • • • • • • • • • • •

sick and the wounded on the battlefield medical personnel/service providers helping the sick and the wounded medical equipment, vehicles, buildings as long as not used for military purposes prisoners of war civilians means of livelihood of civilians (farm, housing, transport, health facilities) women – against sexual abuses children – special needs refugees internally displaced people people gone missing as result of armed conflict humanitarian workers


Protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and provide them with assistance. Prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles.

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