The 1949 Geneva Conventions defined International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and, along with the Additional Protocols of 1977, they set rules for how civilians and combatants are to be treated during armed conflicts. Since then, severe violations of these rules in conflicts in many regions have prompted the need for investigations to pursue accountability, identify the victims, reunite families, protect survivors, give voice to witnesses and identify ways to mitigate future violations. The evolution of IHL will be traced, along with the current status of its enforcement and compliance mechanisms, and the use of new evidentiary techniques in the prosecution of violations.
The Human Rights Center uses new technologies and scientific methods to investigate violations of humanitarian law and human rights around the globe. Modern forensic techniques are being employed to identify victims, reunite families, and locate land mines and chemical weapons. Its investigations have been used in prosecutions in front of the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
Eric Stover is Faculty Director and Adjunct Professor of Law, Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley. Previously the Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights and the Director of the Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has served as an "Expert on Mission" to the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and has investigated war crimes in Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda, Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Under his leadership, the Human Rights Center has become an internationally recognized institution.