IRRC No. 309

San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea

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The San Remo Manual was prepared during the period 1988–1994 by a group of legal and naval experts participating in their personal capacity in a series of Round Tables convened by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law. The purpose of the Manual is to provide a contemporary restatement of international law applicable to armed conflicts at sea. The Manual includes a few provisions which might be considered progressive developments in the law but most of its provisions are considered to state the law which is currently applicable. The Manual is viewed by the participants of the Round Tables as being in many respects a modern equivalent to the Oxford Manual on the Laws of Naval War Governing the Relations Between Belligerents adopted by the Institute of International Law in 1913. A contemporary manual was considered necessary because of developments in the law since 1913 which for the most part have not been incorporated into recent treaty law, the Second Geneva Convention of 1949 being essentially limited to the protection of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked at sea. In particular, there has not been a development for the law of armed conflict at sea similar to that for the law of armed conflict on land with the conclusion of Protocol I of 1977 additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Although some of the provisions of Additional Protocol I affect naval operations, in particular those supplementing the protection given to medical vessels and aircraft in the Second Geneva Convention of 1949, Part IV of the Protocol, which protects civilians against the effects of hostilities, is applicable only to naval operations which affect civilians and civilian objects on land.

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