Adopted in 1949, merely four years after the Second World War, the four Geneva Conventions significantly increased the level of protection of victims of armed conflicts. Having a common purpose to preserve a minimum of humanity in times of war, the Geneva Conventions introduced clauses to protect the safety and dignity of victims of war, their human rights, as well as mechanisms to prevent and suppress grave breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
Several months after their adoption, the Council of Europe was established to serve as a watchdog of human rights protection in the post-Second World War era. Standing at the core of the contemporary IHL system, the Geneva Conventions do not stand aloof of the contemporary International Human Rights Law (IHRL) mechanisms, which were largely set up by the Council of Europe. A number of treaties adopted by the Council of Europe, inter alia the European Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitation to Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes, the Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Extradition etc., make explicit reference to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights witnesses an increasing influence of the Geneva Conventions. Moreover, a number of Parliamentary Assembly documents recall the Geneva Conventions when addressing the issues of human rights protection in the framework of armed conflicts. In Resolution 1623 (2008) on the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Assembly “… welcomes the universal ratification of the 1949 Geneva Conventions… It also expresses the hope that all IHL treaties will achieve universal acceptance” (paragraph 6).
The adoption of a resolution on the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions by the Assembly would emphasize their significant role in the protection of human rights during armed conflicts and contribute to the continual synergy between IHL and IHRL.