Promoting International humanitarian law


During wars and armed conflicts, different rules apply than in peace time. These rules are enshrined in international humanitarian law (IHL), which was partly developed by the Red Cross. Belgian Red Cross-Flanders supports its application by teaching current and future journalists, civil servants, soldiers, NGO workers and students, among others, about these rules..

Guest lectures

In 2012, 337 journalism students attended a guest lecture on international humanitarian law and the protection of journalists in armed conflicts.

We also organized another seven ad hoc guest lectures for a range of audiences, from students at the Royal Military Academy to Intercultural Management students.

IHL lectures series

We held our 15th IHL lecture series between February 29 and March 28, 2012, at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels. Entitled ‘Weapons in the firing line’, it featured a number of guest speakers and focused on the theme of arms.

Various weapons-related issues were addressed, including the latest developments in the banning of cluster munitions and landmines, the legality of nuclear weapons, the application of IHL in cyberspace warfare, the issues surrounding autonomous weapons and the role of IHL in controlling the international arms trade.

For the first time we organized a complementary workshop on ballistics in collaboration with the Weapons Systems and Ballistics Department of the Royal Military Academy.

The lecture series attracted a total of 127 participants, including NGO workers, civil servants, military personnel, students, lawyers and Red Cross volunteers and staff. A number of members of parliament also attended.

A collection of the lectures given during the 15th lecture series was published under the title 'Focus op IHR 2012'.

BTC Information Cycle

Each year we organize lectures on IHL and humanitarian assistance as part of the Information Cycle run by the Belgian development agency (BTC). The Information Cycle is a training series on international cooperation and North-South relations aimed at anyone working or wanting to work in development cooperation. We welcomed a total of 513 attendees at 10 sessions.

Brochure on international humanitarian law

In 2010, we launched a brochure entitled 'Internationaal humanitair recht. Antwoorden op uw vragen' (‘International humanitarian law: Your questions answered’), in collaboration with the Netherlands Red Cross. The brochure answers such questions as: What is international humanitarian law? What are the basic rules? How did it come about? In what circumstances does it apply? We distributed 860 copies of the brochure in 2012, at the guest lectures for journalism students and the BTC Information Cycle.

Frits Kalshoven Competition

In 2012, Belgian Red Cross-Flanders together with the Netherlands Red Cross organized the fifth Frits Kalshoven Competition. This annual moot court competition for universities took place from March 5 to 9 and is named after Frits Kalshoven, one of the world’s most renowned experts in IHL. By means of lectures, role plays and a moot court, the Red Cross brings international humanitarian law to life.

A jury made up of renowned experts including Christine Van den Wyngaert, a Belgian judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, chose the team from Leiden University as the winners.

Three Belgian teams took part in 2012 (Ghent University, KU Leuven and the Royal Military Academy). The week ended with a panel debate on the protection of persons and multinational military operations, in which panelists included Belgian Minister of Defense Pieter de Crem and Professor Yves Sandoz  of the International Committee of the  Red Cross.

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