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ICRC urges Thailand to sign rights

The Nation (22 November 1997)

ICRC urges Thailand to sign rights protocols 


The Nation 

THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) yesterday urged
Thailand to ratify two protocols of the 1949 Geneva Convention that would
make International Humanitarian Law and its additional protocols binding
instruments for preserving human rights. 

Prof Christophe Swinarski, former Head of ICRC Regional delegation in
Bangkok said Thailand should take the lead among other Asean countries
because it is in the best position to do so. 

''Thailand and Singapore are without immediate problems in the
application of the protocols. Indonesia has the problem of East Timor and
Malaysia some problems while other countries have territorial claims,"
Swinarski said. 

He said early ratification would encourage other countries to do

Thailand is a party to the Geneva Conventions of Aug 12, 1949 that
consist of four parts ­ Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition
of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field; Convention of the
Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea; Convention related
to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and the Convention related to the
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. 

The additional protocols to the Geneva Convention completed on June 8,
1977 are ­ Protocol I relating to the Protection of Victims of
International Armed Conflicts and Protocol II relating to the Protection
of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflict. 

Laos ratified both the protocols in 1980 while Vietnam ratified only
protocol II in 1986. 

Speaking at a lecture at Thammasat University on International
Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law he said in the 30 current conflicts
around the world, about 90 persons are killed every minute. 

Foreign Ministry deputy director general of the department of Treaties
and Legal Affairs Warawit Kanithasen, said Thailand is considering
ratification of the protocols. He said experts from concerned ministries
and agencies will discuss the issue in the first quarter of next year. 

Swinarski said the International Law of Armed Conflicts as commonly
agreed represents the body of international treaties and customs to be
specifically applied in situations of armed conflicts, international and
non-international, so as to limit the rights of the parties to
indiscriminately choose methods and means of combat and to protect
persons and objects affected by such conflicts. 

''International Humanitarian Law concerns the promotion and well being of
humanity, basically it is to preserve the essential human existence," he

He said the provisions on protection of persons and objects affected by
situations of armed conflict also known as the Law of Geneva are codified
in the four 1949 Geneva Conventions and in their 1977 Additional
Protocols. These six treaties are of universal value, he said. 

Swinarski explained the distinct history and development of International
Humanitarian Law within the domain of international rules for the legal
protection of the individual as compared to other systems of protection
such as human rights. 

The ICRC is actively promoting awareness of International Humanitarian
Law and is organising a five-days international conference in Bangkok
beginning on Monday.