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ICRC Professional Standards for Protection 2013 (English)

ICRC Professional Standards for Protection 2013 (English)

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Published by: InterAction on May 08, 2013
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25. Protection actors must be familiar with the various legal
frameworks that are applicable.

There are many international standards (treaties, customary law, soft law) that
require the State and other actors to protect individuals or communities in
armed confict and other situations of violence. Some are specifc to certain
categories of persons, such as refugees, children, women, people with
disabilities, detainees, IDPs, migrant workers, persons belonging to national,
ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities. Some concern specifc situations, such
as the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons
in Time of War, and the Regulations to the 1907 Fourth Hague Convention
concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, or the 1948 Convention on
the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Others concern the
use of certain weapons such as the 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition
of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and
on their Destruction, and various Protocols to the 1980 Convention on Certain
Conventional Weapons.

While it is understandable that many protection actors may not know, or need
to know the details of all sets of laws, they must nevertheless know which legal
frameworks apply to the context in which they are working. Consequently,

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Professional standards for Protection Work

understanding the essence of IHL, IHRL, and IRL (see box below), and being
able to understand how they complement each other, is a requirement for all
protection staf when planning and implementing protection activities.

Staf working on protection issues must therefore have the necessary skills
and knowledge, or receive appropriate training on the essence, logic and basic
principles of each body of international law. In addition, protection actors must
also be clear as to who falls within the personal, temporal and territorial scope
of application of each of these bodies of law.

Universal protection norms are to be found in the sets of laws outlined in the
box below.

Essential features of IHl, IHrl and Irl

Universal legal norms ensuring the respect for individuals, in particular
their protection from the efects of violence and abuse can be found in
three bodies of law:

• international humanitarian law, or the law of armed confict,

• international human rights law, and

• international refugee law.

IHL is the law specifcally designed for armed confict situations. It aims
to ensure respect for civilians, and those who are not, or no longer, taking
direct part in a confict, and to regulate the means and method of use
of force during international and non-international armed confict. It
recognizes the importance of relief and protection activities by the ICRC
and other impartial humanitarian organizations.

IHRL imposes on States obligations to respect and protect rights of
individuals in their territory or within their jurisdiction. IHRL is applicable
in all circumstances with exceptional derogations for a limited set of rights
in situations of public emergency. States are furthermore required to give
due notifcation of these derogations.

Both bodies of law comprise a large number of treaties and customary
rules that were developed at diferent points in time. Not all States are
parties to all treaties, although all existing States have adhered to the
Geneva Conventions.

Customary law is applicable irrespective of whether or not a State has
ratifed any treaty provision that contains the customary norm.

These treaties and customary law are complemented by numerous
internationally recognized standards, some of them adopted by political
bodies such as the General Assembly of the United Nations.

A major distinction to be noted between IHL and IHRL is that international
human rights law provides rights to the individual to be protected,
respected and fulflled by the State, whereas international humanitarian
law binds parties to an armed confict (be they States or organized
armed non-State actors).

National authorities are required to ensure that these sets of laws are fully
integrated within domestic legislation and regulations.

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BuIldInG on tHE lEGAl BASE oF protEctIon

IRL regulates protection due to persons who fnd themselves outside the
territory of their State, no longer enjoying its protection, and is applicable
both in confict and in peacetime. The 1951 Convention relating to the
Status of Refugees is the key legal instrument defning who is a refugee,
their rights and the legal obligations of States. While the Convention
defnition of a refugee is restricted to persons sufering persecution
on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or belonging
to a particular social group, other regional instruments and elements
of customary law enlarge the defnition to persons feeing confict or
generalized violence.

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