Event: Frits Kalshoven Competition on International Humanitarian Law 2015

ICRC Humanitarian ActionThe Netherlands Red Cross and Belgian Red Cross-Flanders invite you to attend the Finals of the Frits Kalshoven Competition on International Humanitarian Law 2015 on Friday afternoon 27 February 2015.

The Competition, which will take place for the 8th year, has as its objective to engage ambitious Law students in the implementation of the rules that apply during armed conflict. The theme of this year’s competition is “Warfare in densely populated areas”, a subject that has been in the news often recently.

The focus will be on realistic dilemmas surrounding use of explosive weapons and the protection of civilians.

After an intense week full of workshops, lectures, role plays and pleadings about international humanitarian law, two teams will compete in the grand finale of the Moot Court in front of a bench of reknown experts:

– Judge Alphons Orie (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia)

– Commodore Peter Heblij (Head Military Legal Service, Netherlands Ministry of Defence)

– Ms Mariya Chavdarova Nikolova (ICRC, Editor of International Review of the Red Cross)

The prize for Best Oralist will be awarded by Pieter de Jong Schouwenburg (Van Doorne Advocaten).

The Competition will take place at The Hague Crown Plaza (Van Stolkweg 1, 2585 JL Den Haag) on 27 February 2015.

You can register online until 20 February.

Red Cross: “Ukraine is Officially in a War”

Ukraine ConflictAccording to Western diplomats and officials, the Red Cross has made a confidential legal assessment that Ukraine is officially in a war. Such statement would open the door to possible war crimes prosecutions, including over the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH-17.

“Clearly it’s an international conflict and therefore this is most probably a war crime,” one Western diplomat said in Geneva.

The Red Cross has not made any public statement – seeking not to offend either Ukraine or Russia by calling it a civil war or a case of foreign aggression – but it has done so privately and informed the parties to the conflict.

“The qualification has been shared bilaterally and confidentially. We do not discuss it publicly”, said Anastasia Isyuk, the Red Cross spokeswoman.

The designation as a war – either international or civil – changes the situation as it turns both sides into combatants with equal liability for war crimes, which have no statute of limitations and cannot be absolved by an amnesty. Continue reading

Update of ICRC International Humanitarian Law Database

ICRC Humanitarian ActionToday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has made available on its online, free of charge Customary IHL database an update of State practice of 7 countries and 3 tribunals relating to armed conflicts and humanitarian issues such as the distinction between combatants and civilians, the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, the protection of internally displaced persons, the protection of children and in particular child soldiers, the prohibition of sexual violence and slavery, the integration of international humanitarian law (IHL) into the training and operations of armed forces, and the prosecution of war crimes.

Practice up till the end of 2010 of the following countries has been included for this most recent update of the Database: Armenia, Brazil, Cuba, El Salvador, Georgia, Nepal and New Zealand. Case-law of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice dealing with questions of IHL has also been updated. New practice is marked in green throughout the database.

The purpose of the Customary IHL database is to make not only the rules of customary IHL but also the underlying State and international practice easily accessible by everyone interested in the interpretation and application of IHL. The information in the database is easily accessible by means of three search parameters: subject matter, type of practice and country, which can be used separately or can be combined in a powerful search engine.

The database will continue to be updated with practice from about 100 countries and a number of relevant international bodies. The next updates of both national and international practice are scheduled for June and July 2014.