SA to host “rules of war” conference


A high-level workshop on international rules governing military operations is set to be held on the African continent for the first time. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Republic of South Africa together with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), are organizing this year’s edition of the workshop for around 70 senior officers from different armed forces across the globe.

“Such a workshop is essential to bring about greater respect for international law and limit the suffering of people affected by armed conflict or internal violence,” says ICRC Vice President Christine Beerli, who will attend the opening ceremony.

The Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations (SWIRMO) aims to enhance understanding of the most pressing international legal issues faced in modern military operations. This year it will focus on military detention, the conduct of hostilities, and military involvement in law enforcement operations in order to translate legal principles into practice.
“The SANDF is honoured to host the SWIRMO course,” says the SA military’s Chief of Human Resources, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi, who will officially open the SWIRMO 2011 at the Military Academy at Saldanha, near Cape Town, on June 27. He adds the SANDF “continuously strives to achieve a high level of excellence for the troops in South Africa and peace-support operations on the continent. By providing troops with the best military training, we are ensuring a safe and secure South Africa, while contributing to a better Africa and a better world.”

The workshop provides an environment where experiences can be shared, allowing participants to broaden their views on the operational consequences of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. SWIRMO provides participants with the tools necessary to encourage behaviour that complies with the law. All the participants and instructors are senior military officers who have extensive backgrounds and experience in operations and/or training.

Every year, SWIRMO is hosted jointly by the ICRC and the armed forces of a selected country. The 2007, 2008 and 2010 editions of SWIRMO took place in Switzerland with the Swiss armed forces as co-hosts. In 2009, SWIRMO was held in Paris in cooperation with the État-Major de l’Armée de Terre (HQ French land forces).

The 5th SWIRMO will be hosted by the Military Academy in Saldanha Bay, Western Cape, from June 27 to July 2.