Protection of persons and objects

Since 2019, Iraqi authorities, with the support of international organizations, have commenced efforts to exhume, identify and hand over to families the remains of those who died during the conflict between Da’esh/ISIL and Iraq.

The motivations behind such compliance with IHL may include bringing closure to the families, honouring the victims, responding to calls by civil society and activists, and contributing to peace and stability in Iraq. This case refers to events occurred in Sinjar from 2019 to 2020.
During the 1982 conflict in the Falklands/Malvinas, British military medical personnel provided comprehensive medical treatment for wounded enemy combatants – based on medical need alone and regardless of allegiance, as required by IHL. Training for medical personnel before going into combat, and the close proximity of medical support units to the site of hostilities, played an important role in influencing these acts of compliance with IHL.
As part of a peace agreement with the Free Aceh Movement (‘GAM’) signed on 15 August 2005, the Government of Indonesia released thousands of people detained during the conflict. This act of compliance with IHL is said to have been motivated by the consequences of the Indian ocean tsunami of 2004 and has paved the way towards a successful peace process.
In 2011, during NATO-led Operation Unified Protector, Türkiye evacuated and treated seriously wounded from the besieged Libyan towns of Misurata and Benghazi. The wounded were cared for onboard a Turkish ship and, upon arrival at the Turkish port of Çeşme, were transported to medical centers for further care.
In compliance with the first agreement between them since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen, the Hadi government and the Houthis have released hundreds of detainees. These acts of compliance with IHL may have been a result of diplomatic efforts and international pressure; they may also have been influenced by both parties' interest in gaining credibility and improving their public image.
In August 2014, the United States coordinated its airpower with Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi Army ground forces to retake the highly fragile Mosul Dam in Iraq from the Islamic State, thereby respecting the heightened protections afforded to critical infrastructure under IHL and avoiding a potential humanitarian disaster.
At the end of the 1990–1991 Gulf War, a tripartite commission was set up and mandated to ascertain the fate of people who had gone missing during the war. Iraq and Kuwait collaborated under the auspices of this commission and succeeded in locating, exhuming, and repatriating numerous sets of human remains. These reciprocal actions of compliance with IHL were enabled by such means as the mediation and support of external actors and the use of advanced technology.
On 29 October and 14 November 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as part of mutual agreements, facilitated the return and transfer of the dead following the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The support and facilitation offered by foreign governments and organisations such as the ICRC and the OSCE may have contributed to respect for IHL.
In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, the United States decided not to attack Iraqi aircraft positioned next to the World Heritage Site, Ziggurat at Ur due to the risk of damage. This action, which demonstrated respect for cultural property and the principles of distinction and proportionality, may have been influenced by the United States’ experiences during previous conflicts and the desire to maintain a positive public opinion.
Various measures have been put in place in Croatia to search for people who went missing during the armed conflict of 1991–1995 in the former Yugoslavia. These yielded concrete results in a number of cases: numerous dead bodies were recovered and identified. The families of missing people, and civil society, played an important role in resolving missing-persons cases. All these actions – which demonstrated respect for IHL – might have contributed to healing some of the trauma caused by war.