4th Commonwealth Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference on International Humanitarian Law, Canberra, Australia, 20 – 23 July 2015
‘Strengthening protection for victims of armed conflict in a world of complex crises’ was the central theme of a four-day conference which was held in Canberra from 20-23 July 2015, and was co-hosted by the Australian Government, Australian Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The event was supported by British Red Cross and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Fourth Commonwealth Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) saw participation from government officials and Red Cross and Red Crescent representatives from more than 35 Commonwealth nations. Also present were observers from the Commonwealth Secretariat, London and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), New Delhi, India.
As humanity has been currently witnessing the devastating impact of armed conflicts around the world, this event served as an important opportunity for States to recall and reinforce the value of the laws of war, the importance and relevance of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and principled humanitarian action.
Sharing legal traditions of the Commonwealth nations, the conference also provided governments and their National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies a platform to share their experiences on domestic implementation of IHL.
The participants had a chance to exchange perspectives on the current challenges facingIHL. Issues such as new means and methods of warfare, fighting in urban areas, the fragmentation of armed groups, and suffering as a result of sexual violence, and attacks on health care workers were among the topics discussed. With violations of the rules of war continuing to take place globally, another critical issue on the agenda was compliance with IHL.
The representative from the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, Mrs. Anuradha Bakshi, Principal Legal Officer, was one of the panelists on the theme “Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict: A Multi-faceted Response to the Humanitarian Needs of Victims”.
Importantly, the Commonwealth Conference included topics and themes that would be discussed on the agenda of the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which would take place from 8 to 10 December 2015, in Geneva.