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Rwanda: young officers from East Africa compete on the law of armed conflicts

07-12-2005 News Release

The first regional competition on the law of war for soldiers from East African countries has started in Rwanda.

 The ICRC's delegation in Kigali has released the following press release  

The first regional competition on the law of war for soldiers from East African countries has started in Rwanda. Organised jointly by the ICRC and Rwanda Defence Forces, the competition will bring together seven teams from Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Uganda and Rwanda. The teams, composed of three young officers each, will have four days to demonstrate their knowledge of the law of war – or international humanitarian law – through different theoretical and practical exercises.

The winner will have the honour of representing Africa in the world contest, which will take place at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, at San Remo, Italy, in April 2006.

The contest will take place from 5 to 8 December at Nyakinama Military Academy, located at about one hundred kilometres from the Capital City, Kigali. Most of the countries invited are members of the East African Standby Brigade of the African Union (EASBRIG).

The teams are confronted with tests which reflect practical situations. Participants will have to apply and respect the law of war in field exercises, such as the management of civilian and military persons at a checkpoint or the treatment of the wounded during the defence of a position. Their knowledge will also be tested in a simulation of an operation centre for a peacekeeping force, each team representing a country. The commanding role for the occasion will be assumed by Col. R. Kibochi, Chief of Staff of the East African Standby Br igade.

Patrick Schwärzler, ICRC delegate for armed forces in East Africa, said of the competition: “For several years, the ICRC has supported armed forces in teaching the law of war and has insisted on the need to integrate this law into all aspects of military operations. Such a contest enables the ICRC to assess the knowledge of the officers and their capacity to apply rules to practical situations. On the other hand, such an event enables the ICRC to insist on the fact that the law of war sets out very clear limits on carrying out hostilities, and that it has a direct impact on the way operations are carried out. The aim is not to prevent soldiers from doing their job, but to limit the suffering caused by war, by protecting victims.”

The opening ceremony was presided over by the Rwanda’s defence minister, General Marcel Gatsinzi, the head of the ICRC delegation in Rwanda, Mr. Pierre Wettach, and the commandant of Nyakinama Military Academy, Brigadier General Frank Rusagara. The competition will end with the final on Thursday afternoon involving the top two teams.

 Further Information :  

 Sophie Romanens, Communication Coordinator,  

 ICRC Kigali, Mob : (+ 250) 0830 5069