The Role of the International Committee of the Red Cross

Rotem Giladi, Steven R Ratner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter discusses the role of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the implementation of the Geneva Conventions. It begins with a background on the ICRC, covering its history and structure, international legal status, and its impartiality, neutrality, and independence. It then details the ICRC’s functions under the Geneva Conventions, its methods for fostering compliance with international humanitarian law, and its relations with international criminal courts. The ICRC has repeatedly acted beyond its very limited textual mandate in the Conventions to take on significant responsibilities in their execution. Its unique modus operandi, centred on direct interactions with warring parties, has demonstrated some effectiveness, even as the confidentiality at its centre has proved controversial. Ultimately, the major role played by this unique NGO is evidence of an unwillingness of the Conventions’ parties to create and own a robust enforcement mechanism.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe 1949 Geneva Conventions
Subtitle of host publicationA Commentary
EditorsAndrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta, Marco Sassòli
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2015

Publication series

NameOxford Commentaries on International Law


  • Geneva Conventions 1949
  • Geneva Conventions 1949 Additional Protocol 1
  • Geneva Conventions 1949 Additional Protocol 2
  • Confidentiality


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