International Humanitarian Law Instruments

Geila Alpion, International Humanitarian Law Officer, geila.alpion@fco.gov.uk


The UK government has made a commitment to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and accede to its two Protocols and Parliament has endorsed this – the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act 2017 was passed with support from all sides in Parliament in February 2017. The Act makes the necessary provision in UK domestic law to ensure that the UK can comply with the Convention and Protocols, thereby enabling the UK to become a state party to both.

The UK General Election and subsequent government reshuffle have intervened in the process of ratifying of the Convention and acceding to its Protocols but the UK government remains committed to doing so at the earliest opportunity.

The UK is a member of the selection committee for the Arms Trade Treaty’s Voluntary Trust Fund which provides funds to support States Parties in implementing the Treaty. In March 2017 the UK made a donation of £311,000 to the Fund.

The UK strongly supports the Treaty’s objective of increasing transparency through reporting and has delivered both its Initial Report and Annual Reports on schedule. We have also been actively involved in the work of the Transparency and Reporting Working Group.

The UK continues to support universalisation of the Treaty and in recent months has raised the issue at senior official level with India, China and Israel. The UK also supports the EU’s Outreach programme as well as joining EU demarches.

The UK fully applies the IHL related provisions of the ATT when assessing export licence applications and risks around human rights violations are a key part of our assessment against the Consolidated Criteria. Export licensing requires us to consider how the equipment will be used by the end-user. We will not issue a licence if to do so would be inconsistent with any provision of the mandatory Licensing Criteria, including where we assess there is a clear risk that it might be used in the commission of a serious violation of International Humanitarian Law .