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The Making of International Criminal JusticeThe View from the Bench: Selected Speeches$
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Theodor Meron

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199608935

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608935.001.0001

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The Geneva Conventions and Public International Law

The Geneva Conventions and Public International Law

(p.19) 2 The Geneva Conventions and Public International Law
The Making of International Criminal Justice

Theodor Meron

Oxford University Press

Today, the rights and values embodied in the 1949 Geneva Conventions implicitly underlie rights and duties of states in both war and peace, as well as shaping the ethos of our shared sense of humanity. But the near universal acceptance of the Conventions and their secure integration into the international system can sometimes lead us to underestimate the significance of their impact. This chapter talks about this transformative impact. It focuses on three concurrent trends set in motion by the Conventions. The first strand was a movement away from reactively protecting civilians to proactively safeguarding their welfare. Second, international humanitarian law shifted its focus from a paradigm of reciprocity to a framework of individual responsibility and rights. Lastly, the near universal acceptance of the Geneva Conventions has led to a non-derogable standard of humane conduct.

Keywords:   1949 Geneva Conventions, human rights, international humanitarian law, civilian welfare, individual responsibility, human conduct

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