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Geneva Convention :An Abdication Of Responsibility

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

News Service: 135/99
AI INDEX: MDE 15/47/99
15 July 1999

ISRAEL

Fourth Geneva Convention meeting: an abdication of responsibility

Amnesty International is appalled by a 10 minute meeting of High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, convened today in Geneva, which failed to consider enforcement measures to ensure that Israel respect its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The High Contracting Parties have only met to decide to defer their responsibilities. It is a supreme irony that, on the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, a conference that was set up to bring back to the limelight the plight of the protected population in the Occupied Territories lasts only 10 minutes. Today marks a scandalously? missed opportunity to reaffirm international humanitarian law.

Resolution ES-10/6, adopted by almost all members of the UN General Assembly on 8 February 1999, called for the convening of this meeting of High Contracting Parties to consider enforcement measures. At todays meeting the High Contracting Parties failed to demonstrate a serious commitment to ensure protection for people in the territories occupied by Israel in particular, and to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law in general.

Israel, as a High Contracting Party, has been violating the Fourth Geneva Convention for more than 30 years, when it carries out wilful killings extrajudicially, when it tortures or when it indiscriminately uses force, Amnesty International said. The High Contracting Parties themselves however have violated their obligation enshrined in Article 1 of the Convention, to ensure respect for the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Instead of studying ways to enforce compliance with the obligations of the Convention, the meeting was a simple procedural one and was concluded after 10 minutes. Even worse, it set no date for a substantive discussion and decisions on enforcement measures, confining itself to the postponement of the meeting sine die. The meeting will be reconvened only in the light of the developments in the humanitarian situation in the field.

If the resolution adopted by the General Assembly is not to remain simple lip service, it is imperative that the meeting of High Contracting Parties be reconvened before the end of the year, and that the question of enforcement measures be addressed in order to lead to concrete steps.

ENDS.../

Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street,

WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom

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