States Parties to the Geneva Conventions (and to their Protocols) have committed themselves in Article 1 common to the four Conventions to respect and to ensure respect for these treaties. Thus, by recognising the competence of the Commission, States can contribute significantly to the implementation of international humanitarian law and consequently to the protection of victims of armed conflicts.
By accepting the Commission's competence by declaration, a State consents to an enquiry on an ongoing basis, and in return obtains the right to request an enquiry in conflicts between other declaring States.
Moreover, the Commission:
- is not a tribunal and focuses on facts and therefore returns no verdict;
- can offer its good offices and thus facilitate the restoration of an attitude of respect for the Conventions and the Protocol;
- has expressed its willingness to investigate violations of humanitarian law occurring not only in international conflicts, to which the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I are applicable, but also in non international conflicts, provided the parties involved agree;
- invites States to assist it and to present evidence during the course of the investigation;
- discloses all evidence which the Parties have the right to comment and challenge, insuring in consequence fair and thorough proceedings;
- may not report its findings publicly, unless all the parties to the conflict agree;
- has within its elected membership highly qualified, internationally recognised, independent experts covering relevant areas of expertise;
- reflects the humanitarian and non political character of the law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts;
- is a permanent body available to the international community whenever necessary and with the prospect of build up of experience.