Tripoli, 26 June:
A memorandum of understanding was signed today between the Libyan armed forces and the International Committee of the Red . . .[restrict]Cross (ICRC), designed to ensure that both the military’s training and operations conform with international humanitarian law.
In the wake of the revolution, the armed forces are undergoing a structural and operational overhaul, which includes the development of a new Military Act to guide the conduct of all military personnel.
“The Libyan Armed Forces have expressed a clear desire to ensure that international humanitarian law and other rules on the use of force are taken into account in the way they plan and operate,” said Georges Comninos, the head of the ICRC delegation in Libya. “This agreement is therefore an important step in the armed forces’ continuing cooperation with the ICRC.”
The memorandum was signed at Libyan military headquarters in Tripoli.
In addition to providing legal advice in developing the Military Act, the ICRC will also be offering support and guidance to Libyan officers to ensure that international humanitarian law is adhered to in practice. “In the coming months, we will be working with the military to ensure that these rules are systematically incorporated into their behaviour, and we are in the process of reviewing this process and making recommendations together”, an ICRC spokeswoman said.
“As with the rest of Libya, the armed forces are in a process of transition at present”, she added. “Today’s agreement represents a long term commitment. We are not talking about one year; it takes time for an army to build its capacity.”
The ICRC has extensive experience in this field, and has worked with various militaries in the Middle East to develop codes of conduct in the past. The ICRC has been providing assistance and guidance on international humanitarian law to the Libyan armed forces since November 2006, with Libya having been a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention since May 1956.
The military was accused of violating a number of humanitarian laws during last year’s conflict, and the ICRC has said that today’s agreement represents a clear commitment on the part of Libya’s new military leadership to ensure that international laws are fully respected in future. [/restrict]