New York, July 7, 1998

Excellency,

I have the honor to transmit to you a sample of a note that the Government of Switzerland has recently addressed to the Governments of the States Parties to the IV Geneva Convention as well as to Organizations more particularly concerned. This note presents a proposal made by the Swiss Government in its capacity as the Depositary of the IV Geneva Convention.

I am at your disposal for any possible questions or if you need further information regarding this proposal.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of my highest consideration.

Jeno C.A. Staehelin
Ambassador
Permanent Observer

To all
Heads of Permanent Missions
and Heads of Delegations
to the United Nations

New York

The Swiss Embassy…presents its compliments…and has the honor to bring the following to its attention:

After the adoption of several Emergency Session Resolutions, the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 17 March 1998, adopted Resolution ES-10/5, by which recommendations were addressed to the States Parties to the IVth Geneva Convention(ES-10/5, Para 3) and to the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depositary of the Convention (ES-10/5, Para 4 to 6).

Bearing in mind the message thus conveyed by the General Assembly and taking into consideration the results of the consultations which have been conducted with these States Parties and, subsequently, with the States and Organisations more particularly concerned, the Swiss Government proposed to the latter a package of tow measures which are intended to be mutually complementary.

  1. On the one hand Switzerland would invite representatives of Israel and of the
  2. Palestine Liberation Organisation, in the presence of representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, to a meeting in camera chaired by Switzerland and aimed at examining measures and mechanisms which could contribute to the effective application of the IVth Geneva Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the territories annexed without recognition by the international community. This meeting took place from 9 to 11 June 1998 in Geneva. A short presentation of the discussions is enclosed in the annex.

  3. On the other hand, Switzerland would, in the first days of July 1998, propose to the

States Parties to the IVth Geneva Convention the convening of an expert meeting, to be held in early autumn 1998, which would proceed to an analysis of the general problems regarding the IVth Geneva Convention – in general and, in particular, in occupied territories – and seek possible remedies.

The purpose of the present note is now to propose to the States Parties that the Swiss Government proceed as described and convene such a meeting, which would take place in principle from 27 to 29 October 1998 at the Centre international de conferences de Geneva(CICG), 15, rue de Varembe, in Geneva.

The meeting should consider general problems regarding the IVth Geneva Convention

-in general and, in particular, in occupied territories. The object and format of this meeting of experts would be analogous to that of the first Periodical Meeting on International Humanitarian Law which took place in Geneva from 19 to 23 January 1998.  

In the spirit of the Periodical Meetings, as they have been conceived by the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent(1995) in its Resolution 1, the problems under examination "will not relate to any specific situation, but will be of a general character that can be of interest for States in general" (statement made by Switzerland at the 26th International Conference in response to the wish of the participants, see Report of the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, p. 117). One should recall that the objective of such meetings is to maintain and strengthen the dialogue between the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions on general problems regarding the application of international humanitarian law.

In accordance with the practice established by the first Periodical Meeting, the proposed meeting should be in the nature of an exchange of views that could be structured along the following lines:

-identification of problems and their causes;

-possible solutions;

-possible follow-up.

In view of the informal character of the discussion, no rules of procedure would be applied; there would be no bureau and the meeting would be chaired by a representative of the Depositary.

The discussions would be reflected in a report by the chairman, to be transmitted to the States Parties and to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

In addition to the States Parties, other participants would be invited to the meeting.

The Embassy would appreciate if the …. Could communicate its views on the above-mentioned proposal until 15 August 1998.

The Swiss Embassy…. Avails itself…

MODELE DE NOTE VERBALE EN ANGLAIS

The Swiss Embassy presents its compliments to the Foreign Ministry of NN and has the honor of referring to its note of DD proposing the convening of a meeting of experts to proceed analysis of the general problems regarding the application of the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (4th Geneva Convention) in general and, in particular, in occupied territories and to seek possible remedies.

Pursuant to the results of the consultation, the Swiss authorities decided to convene the above-mentioned meeting on the dates originally envisaged, i.e. 27-29 October 1998, at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG), 15 rue de Varembre. The purpose of this Note is to confirm the Swiss authorities’ intention to convene this meeting, to invite the Minister to designate one or more experts in international humanitarian law to represent the Government of NN at the meeting and to indicate to the Ministry the manner in which the Swiss authorities conceive of the meeting and intend to organise and structure the debates.

  1. Following the example of the first periodical meeting on international humanitarian
  2. law which took place from 19- 23 January 1998, the forthcoming expert meeting aims to maintain and strengthen the dialogue between the parties to the Geneva Conventions regarding general problems of application of international humanitarian law. The problems to be examined shall not relate to any specific situation. The objective shall be:

    -to examine the general problems of application regarding the 4th Geneva Convention as outlined above;

    -to seek possible solutions to the general problems identified;

    -to determine or seek ways in which these solutions could be best applied.

  3. The expert meeting will be chaired by a representative of the Depositary State. It will
  4. be in the nature of an informal exchange of views. The delegates will not be called upon to take any decisions nor to conduct elections. The debates will be reflected in a report which will be established by the Chairman at the end of the meeting and communicated to the State Parties and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

    The official languages of the meeting will be in English, Spanish and French.

  5. Concerning the participation at this meeting, the Swiss authorities intend to invite the following observers:

- States non-parties to the 4th Geneva Convention;

- the International Committee of the Red Cross on account of its particular role in the field of international humanitarian law, and the International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies;

  1. the United Nations and the specialized agencies concerned;
  2. observers accredited to the General Assembly of the United Nations,

Participation will follow the guidelines defined for the first periodic meeting of January 1998 particularly with regard to the status of the attending delegations.

  1. Within this overall framework the Swiss authorities propose the discussion of the following issues:
  2. -General problems regarding the application of the 4th Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilian populations in general;

    -General problems regarding the application of the 4th Geneva Convention relating to the protection of civilian populations in occupied territories.

    The Ministry will receive background documentation, prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross, is due course.

  3. Taking into account the objectives outlined under point 1, the Swiss authorities propose that the discussions in three stages:

-Analysis of the problems and their causes: this factual and juridical analysis would highlight the causes of the problems encountered. The applicable rules might be referred to, in particular as regards their complexity.

-Possible measures to resolve the general problems thus identified: for instance, the prevention of violations, the dissemination of international humanitarian law, the relevant training of armed and security forces, the prosecution of violations, various measures to be undertaken in the framework of international cooperation or any other that could be envisaged .

-Implementation of such measures: this would call for the consideration of ways in which the measures envisaged to address the general problems identified could best be applied.

The outcome of the meeting will be set out in a report established by the Chairman.

The Swiss Embassy would be most obliged for the Ministry to inform the relevant Swiss authorities of the composition of the delegation of …..NN…..by returning the forms forwarded with this Note, duly completed, by 15 October. Further practical information for the attention of the Ministry’s representatives is also enclosed herewith.

The Swiss Embassy would like to avail itself…..

Enclosures

To The Foreign Ministry

of………………………