(KPL) Representatives of the Government of the Lao PDR, the diplomatic community and Lao Red Cross gathered in Vientiane on July 25 to commemorate 70 years since the adoption of the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

The four Geneva Conventions continue to inspire International Humanitarian Law (IHL) regulating armed conflict. 

IHL seeks to limit the suffering of persons not taking part in an armed conflict and restore the dignity of those no longer party to a conflict.  In addition, IHL limits the kind of weapons and the way they are used.

The event, organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in collaboration with the Embassy of Switzerland, is part of a series of events organised worldwide to mark this important achievement by States in crafting rules to limit the suffering caused by armed conflict. 

As one of the few international treaties to enjoy universal adherence, the 1949 Geneva Conventions continue to play an enduring role even with the advent of new technologies and new battlefields such as cyber and outer space. 

“The rules remain the same no matter the circumstances.  States continue to be bound by the rules of the 1949 Geneva Conventions no matter the space where the armed conflict occurs” said Gianni Volpin, Head of ICRC Vientiane.

President of the Lao Red Cross, Mr Khamhoung Heuangvongsy underlined the importance of the Geneva Conventions in Laos’s history and noted that they were among the first treaties that Lao adopted in 1956.

The Ambassador of Switzerland Mr. Ivo Sieber called on States to continue to respect and ensure respect for IHL, an obligation spelt out by the very first article, common to all four of the Geneva Conventions. 

In her presentation, Ms Fiona Barnaby, ICRC Regional Legal Adviser spoke of the Enduring Relevance of the Geneva Conventions 70 years on.  She noted that despite developments that seem to challenge the applicability of the Geneva Conventions, they remain a cornerstone of international law and a guide for future developments of IHL.

The event drew close to 50 participants from the government and the diplomatic community and was the first time such a commemoration was held in Vientiane for the 1949 Geneva Conventions.