Part I(A)(2)—Law and Policy:
Obligations of Governments—Treaty
Law, 'Soft Law', and the Committee on
the Rights of the Child
Part I(A)(1) above has outlined the content of international law relevant to the training of officers, and various implementation mechanisms. It aimed to answer the questions: a) what are the rules and standards of conduct, specifically regarding the treatment of children, that are pertinent to the training of officers of national armed forces? and b) what are the main legal mechanisms (which should also be referred to in training) for encouraging compliance?
Part I(A)(2) below will outline the body of law and policy that places on governments the obligation to ensure that their armed forces receive this training. It aims to answer the question: what are the obligations of states to provide pertinent IHL and human rights training for their military personnel—in particular, for officers of their national armed forces? This part of the book is therefore of particular relevance to those involved in government and the formulation of policy.
The starting point here is that states are obliged to comply with customary international law regarding armed conflict, and with pertinent IHL and international human rights treaties that they have ratified. Many states do, of course, frequently and catastrophically fail to fulfil these obligations, as already mentioned. Nonetheless, limited compliance is sometimes achieved—and it is essential to achieving (and, ideally, increasing) such compliance that states disseminate and provide training in the applicable law for their military personnel who bear ultimate responsibility for the conduct of armed conflict.1
Indeed, compliance with the relevant obligations can have other significant advantages. For example, adherence to IHL rules, even if it may prolong the conflict, may, in the words of one authority, 'help to attain other objects. The conflict is being fought in order to achieve peace. That may be easier if there is little of the bitterness usually produced by atrocities'.2