|Statement by Mr. Guan Jian, Counsellor and Legal Adviser of the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, at the Sixth Committee of the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly, on Item 140: Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflicts
New York, 13 October 2004
The Chinese government has always set great store by the important role of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Protocols in the protection of victims of armed conflicts and condemns any violation of the Conventions and their two Protocols. We call for the strict compliance with the provisions of the two Protocols by more countries and their wide dissemination and effective implementation.
Mr. Chairman, since its accession to the two Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 as early as March 14, 1983, China has honoured its obligations under the Protocols in good faith and adopted many positive and useful measures for the study, dissemination and implementation of the Geneva Conventions and their two Protocols.
In the field of domestic legislation, China's criminal law contains specific provisions on dereliction of duties by members of the armed forces to penalize those guilty of abusing POWs or committing atrocities against innocent civilians. Other grave violations of the Conventions and their two Protocols are also punishable under the criminal law. The National Defence Law of the People's Republic of China promulgated on March 14, 1997 explicitly stipulates that in its military relations with other countries China shall abide by the treaties and agreements it has concluded with them or has acceded to or accepted. This constitutes a legal guarantee of China's strict compliance with the Geneva Conventions and their two Protocols.
Within the People's Liberation Army of China, extensive efforts have been made to learn about, disseminate and implement the Geneva Conventions and their two Protocols. Relevant rules and regulations of the armed forces require that arrangements be made at all levels of the military for its members to acquaint themselves with international law and the Geneva Conventions. Since 1991, the Chinese armed forces in cooperation with the ICRC have organized workshops for instructors of international humanitarian law and actively sent participants to various international seminars and training courses on the study and dissemination of international humanitarian law. In June 2004, the PLA organized in Xian a seminar on international humanitarian law for the Asia and Pacific region, which was attended by participants from more than 20 countries in the region and representatives of the ICRC. Participants in the Seminar engaged in an in-depth discussion on the current status of international humanitarian law, the challenges it faces and the trend of its further development.
The Chinese government has always valued and supported the important role played by China's Red Cross Committee in the dissemination of the Geneva Conventions and their two Protocols. The Statute of the Red Cross Committee of the PRC adopted in Oct. 1993 specifies in legal terms the status, purposes, rights and obligations of the Red Cross Committee of China, thereby providing legal protection for the Red Cross Committee of China in its efforts to disseminate the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols. In cooperation with the ICRC, the Red Cross Committee of China organized a training course in basic knowledge about the Red Cross in Guangxi in October 2003 and another one in Sichuan in May 2004. The Red Cross Committee of China plans to set up networks for dissemination in 31 provinces of China before the end of the year.
Mr. Chairman, the Chinese government will as always continue to support the dissemination of international humanitarian law in China and make its contribution to the implementation of the Geneva Conventions and their Protocols.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.