Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 161st session
(Cairo, 16 September 1997)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Having taken note of the report of the Committee to promote respect for International Humanitarian Law (document CL/161/10(g)-R.1 and R.1/Add.1, 2 and 3) which gives an account of the findings of the world inquiry that the Committee conducted on parliamentary action to ensure national application of the rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and on parliamentary action concerning anti-personnel mines,

1. Takes note of the Committee's report;

2. Thanks all those Parliaments which participated in the inquiry for their co-operation and notes the value of the information so gathered;

3. Notes that the data collected must be considered as a representative sampling and not as a complete reflection of parliamentary activity in this field, and therefore asks the Committee to continue gathering and up-dating information and to report to it on the results of its work at its 163rd session, in September 1998;

4. Invites the members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to bring the Committee's report and this resolution to the attention of the competent body in their Parliament and of all government bodies concerned, particularly in view of the Ottawa process on anti-personnel mines;

5. Requests the Secretary General to circulate the Committee's report and this resolution as widely as possible;

6. Decides the following:

A. National application of the rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

1. Recalls that, since the end of the Second World War, the world has been or is being torn by more than 50 international or internal conflicts and many humanitarian crises, leading to millions of deaths, casualties and disabilities, millions of refugees and displaced persons and terrible human suffering, leaving millions of children orphaned, lost or abandoned and exposed to any type of abuse, bleeding countries dry, affecting their institutions, damaging their infrastructures and hampering their development, and resulting in irreparable damage to monuments which belong to the heritage of humankind;

2. Considers that strict respect for the rules of IHL would prevent and offset many of the effects of such conflicts;

3. Observes that the findings of the inquiry conducted by the IHL Committee clearly indicate that parliaments and their members have a key role to play in promoting respect for the rules of IHL and the punishment of violations of these rules, and notes the importance of such action, not only where armed conflicts have actually broken out but also, on a preventive basis, outside periods of hostility;

4. Notes that specifically including IHL issues in the mandate of a standing parliamentary committee or, when justified, setting up a special committee for IHL, is a means of indicating the importance which the parliament attaches to these issues and makes it possible to cover them effectively and on an ongoing basis; and therefore encourages parliaments which have not yet set up such a body to take steps to do so;

5. Invites parliaments also to encourage the setting-up (if this was not already done) of an interministerial commission, or an equivalent body, for the implementation of the rules of IHL and to establish mechanisms for co-operation between the competent parliamentary body and the interministerial body;

6. Invites the parliaments of States which are not yet parties to one or other of the international instruments of IHL to take steps to accede, and further invites the parliamentarians of those States which expressed reservations or interpretative declarations at the time of ratification of such treaties to verify whether such reservations are still valid;

7. Underscores that impunity for war crimes constitutes a violation of international obligations, since States have undertaken to suppress violation of IHL rules; stresses that it is therefore essential to include specific and complete provisions on the suppression of war crimes in the Civil Penal Code and in the Military Penal Code, and urges parliaments to see to it that such provisions are introduced if either of the two codes is lacking in this respect, and also to ensure international penal co-operation to combat impunity;

8. Invites parliaments to promote the earliest possible establishment and operation of the International Criminal Court, currently under study by the United Nations;

9. Underscores that teaching of the rules of IHL constitutes the best means of preventing any breach of them and therefore invites parliaments to adopt legislation to make such teaching compulsory, particularly for the armed and security forces, wherever this is not yet the case;

10. Invites parliaments to consider the adoption of national legislation which bans voluntary or mandatory recruitment of children under 18 as well as any direct or indirect participation by them in hostilities;

11. Also invites parliaments to take steps to ensure the prompt demobilisation of their child soldiers and their reintegration in society, in particular by means of suitable education and training; further invites them to see to the social reintegration of children who are victims of armed conflict or foreign occupation, children who are victims of anti-personnel mines and children who are victims of sexual abuse; lastly invites the international community to support efforts along these lines made by States which are recovering from armed conflicts;

12. Invites parliaments to make every effort to ensure that as many States as possible participate in the first periodic meeting of States parties to the Geneva Conventions to examine general problems in applying IHL, to be hosted by Switzerland in January 1998 in accordance with the decision taken in December 1995 by the XXVIth International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

B. Anti-personnel mines

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

1. Recalls the resolution "World-wide ban on anti-personnel mines and the need for mine clearance for humanitarian purposes" adopted by the 96th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (September 1996) and urges parliaments to act on it;

2. Recalls that, according to the United Nations, there are tens of millions of anti-personnel landmines in more than 70 countries throughout the world, and recognises that an effective long-term solution to the landmines crisis demands an immediate total ban on their production, transfer, stockpiling and use as well as greater efforts to prevent mine incidents and to care for mine victims;

3. Reiterates its extreme concern about the indiscriminate effects of anti-personnel landmines, and their prolonged human, social and economic costs and consequently their adverse impact on efforts to promote sustained national development;

4. Warns that the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines is a flagrant violation of the fundamental norms of International Humanitarian Law;

5. Urges States which have not yet done so to ratify the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, including all annexed Protocols, especially amended Protocol II dealing with Mines, Booby Traps and Other Devices;

6. Welcomes the increasing number of national decisions unilaterally to ban anti-personnel mines and of regional initiatives for the establishment of zones free of this weapon, as well as the rapid progress being made towards the global prohibition of the production, transfer, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines;

7. Also welcomes the adoption of the Brussels Declaration at the Brussels International Conference for a Global Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines in June 1997 and its signature by over 110 States;

8. Urges all governments to sign, in Ottawa in December 1997, the comprehensive International Humanitarian Law treaty prohibiting anti-personnel mines and further urges parliaments to arrange for the earliest possible national ratification of this treaty and the adoption of the enabling legislation and regulations, to ensure the early entry into force of the treaty and full respect of its provisions;

9. Also urges all States and other parties to armed conflict to contribute on an ongoing basis to international landmine clearance efforts and encourages States to fund the United Nations Voluntary Trustee Fund for Mine Clearance;

10. Further urges the government and parliament of the countries concerned to take further action to promote mine-awareness programmes (including gender- and age-appropriate programmes), thereby reducing the number and the plight of civilian victims;

11. Lastly urges likewise the government and parliament of the countries concerned to release appropriate resources for the treatment and rehabilitation of landmine victims.

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