Kuwait City (ICRC) - From 9 to 13 December, around 430 military personnel (personnel, officers and non-commissioned officers) from the north-western military base of Tabuk in addition to a number of civilians participated in a high level workshop on international humanitarian law organized jointly by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Ministry of Defense and the Human Rights Commission. This was the third event of its kind after sessions held in Hafr Al Baten and Kharj, Riyadh, in 2018.
During five days, the participants had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of international humanitarian law (IHL) - the law applicable in times of armed conflict -, share experiences with peers and experts and discuss topics related to the humanitarian consequences of military operations and the protection of civilians.
The workshop focused on means and methods of warfare, the management of military operations, the relations between the ICRC and armed forces, and humanitarian principles. Other topics covered were IHL and Islam, mechanisms to detect IHL violations, the role of the military commander, contemporary challenges to international humanitarian law and humanitarian action, the role of the National Committee on International Humanitarian Law, IHL and peace operations, implementation of IHL, preventive and monitoring mechanisms and IHL sanction regime.
‘Through workshops like this one, we hope to reinforce existing training organised by the Ministry of Defence aimed at all levels of the armed forces in knowledge and application of international humanitarian law and to facilitate humanitarian action’, said John Strick van Linschoten, the ICRC’s head of mission in Saudi Arabia. ‘We are grateful for the support extended by the co-organisers to ensure the smooth running of the workshop and are looking forward to strengthening and expanding the cooperation with the Armed Forces Education and Training unit of the Ministry of Defence’.
‘The Ministry of Defence has developed strategic partnerships in the area of IHL under the guidance of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince and Minister of Defence, which are taken forward by his Excellency, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and his Deputy. The aim is to keep the staff of the Ministry of Defence updated about the latest developments in the field of IHL, raise awareness of the challenges related to this body of law, and find ways, together with the ICRC, to foster a strong culture of IHL and promote its implementation’, said Staff Air Vice-Marshal Saad Bin Mohammad Olayan Al-Shahrani, Chief of Armed Forces Military education and training at the Defence Ministry.
“This training program aims at shedding light on IHL principles and increasing awareness about it. It has targeted all the personnel of the Defence Ministry and is being held once at each provincial military command in the Kingdom.” Stated the spokesperson of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, Mr. Mohammed Al-Maadi.
The workshop, based on an initiative by the Human Rights Commission and the Education and Training Unit of the Ministry of Defense’s armed forces in Riyadh, was supported by JIAT spokesperson and legal expert Brig. General Mansour Al Mansour, experts from various Saudi governmental and military bodies along with a team of ICRC staff with expertise in relations with armed forces, international humanitarian law, and protection.
The participants also learned about the ICRC’s activities aimed at enhancing the protection of civilians, its working modalities with regard to visits to detainees, and its role as neutral intermediary in armed conflict situations.
The ICRC is formally entrusted under the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols with protecting the victims of armed conflict and with promoting international humanitarian law. As an integral part of its operations worldwide, the ICRC maintains a constructive dialogue with the armed and security forces. In Saudi Arabia, the ICRC has been working closely with the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces to strengthen their knowledge of the laws of war.
For further information, please contact:
Dorothea Krimitsas, ICRC Kuwait, +965 9664 60 40 or firstname.lastname@example.org