New means and methods in warfare, unless regulated by International Humanitarian Law (IHL) will pose a serious threat to international peace and security and a grave threat to the very survival of humanity, said Sri Lankan Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr. Rohan Perera.
He was addressing the Sixth South Asian Conference on International Humanitarian Law themed “IHL: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at Colombo recently.
“New technologies of warfare, commonly called ‘cyber warfare’ underline the specificity of cyberspace as a potential method for warfare. This development underlines the particular challenges posed by cyber operations to the observance of the IHL prohibition of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, as well as the obligation to take feasible precautions in attack,” he said.
He added that enormous legal challenges are posed by remote controlled weapons systems. Existing principles of IHL do not respond to all the legal and practical challenges posed by these new technologies. There is, therefore, an urgent need to comprehensively address these issues, and to determine the manner in which IHL Principles will be applied in these situations, Dr. Perera added.
He said: “We are witnessing a period in which the frontiers of IHL are expanding. The present is a period where Non International Armed Conflicts (NIACs) have extended the traditional frontiers of IHL, which was limited to inter-state conflicts. Traditional Inter-state conflicts have now given way to conflicts between states and non-state armed groups, or conflicts between non-state armed groups, conducted within the boundaries of sovereign states.
“The very nature of this phenomenon in present day conflicts confronts the modern state with complex demands and compulsions which requires a careful and delicate balancing of the imperatives of preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, whilst respecting international humanitarian obligations,” he said. It is increasingly recognized that the evolution of peacekeeping demands that the protection of civilians in such violent conflicts is the essential component of peacekeeping operations.The ways and methods in which IHL will apply to this changed environment is a matter that demands the urgent attention of the international community, he said. (Daily News)