INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF RED CROSS ORGANIZATIONS
Geneva, 8 April 1999
Dear Dr Nicolson,
It is now one year since the SIrUS Project, to which you contributed, was published. Since, it has been published in French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian. We have produced a leaflet (enclosed) which has also been published in French and Spanish and which we hope will make the project more digestible. There is an 8 minute briefing video, again in English French and Spanish. You will be asking: so what progress?
In July last year, the Directorate of the ICRC decided that the project would become an institutional Initiative. Up until that point it represented the work of a group of experts invited by the ICRC. (The distinction is important - this was a big event!) All National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and ICRC delegations have since received the written and video material with requests from ICRC Geneva to approach professional institutions. The project will be presented to selected governmental experts in May 1999 and to governments at the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in October 1999. Informally, at a legal level, the feedback has been generally positive. It is seen as a useful tool but lawyers caution US against viewing the four criteria as the means to make an automatic prohibition - which we have never claimed.
The response from the professional health institutions has been extremely positive once they have understood the body of law to which it applies. (A list of current endorsements 15 enclosed.) It is understanding international humanitarian law that health professionals have difficulty with - not the project or its concepts. IHL is not absolute like human rights or pacifism and so the notion of "even wars have limits" reflected in a body of law seems to be a difficult message to pass (even though this 15 the basis of the Ottawa treaty banning antipersonnel mines.) Anything you can do to boost the number of endorsements will be of help. The greater the body of endorsement, the greater attention that governments will pay to the project when it is presented to them.
In the public domain, we have not yet decided whether we are going to actively launch a public communication strategy. However, the SIrUS Project has drawn considerable press interest and several TV stations have requested information and interviews in connection with new or "non-lethal" weapons.
An unexpected outcome 15 that presentation of the project 15 a guarantee of a lively discussion about international humanitarian law especially with a military audience. Thus it is proving to be a useful vehicle for "dissemination" of the law of war.
Once again, I thank you for your time and interest. 1 will try to keep you updated on events. Do not hesitate to contact me for more information or for written 1 video material.
Robin Coupland FRCS
Dr Nancy Nicolson
Chief Executive Officer
The Institute for Molecular Medicine
15162 Triton Lane
USA-Huntington Beach. CA 92649-1041