Red Cross international humanitarian law conference underway in Pretoria


Conflict is a constant in the world and with it goes, more often than not, violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), the topic of a joint International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)/South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) four-day seminar that started today (Tuesday, 21 November) in Pretoria.

This is the 22nd regional seminar of its type in South Africa and the role of Southern Africa in developing IHL is high on the agenda of the gathering at the DIRCO Conference Room of the OR Tambo Building in Rietondale, Pretoria.

Other issues on the table are the impact of autonomous weapon systems and digital threats and how they affect civilians during armed conflict.

IHL, according to the ICRC, is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare. IHL is also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is well represented at the seminar with 20 delegates, including Mozambique where a regional bloc mission is tasked with stopping Islamic extremists in Cabo Delgado.

On the speaker list are DIRCO Deputy Minister Alvin Botes; ISCRC regional delegation head Jules Amoti; and Michiel Combrink, DIRCO Director Disarmament specialising in autonomous weapon systems and others.