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Rwanda: the law of war for the military

08-12-2005 News Release

A team from Kenya has won the first East African competition on the law of war for the military.

 The following was issued as a press release by the ICRC delegation in Kigali on December 8 2005   

In collaboration with the ICRC, the Military Academy of Nyakinama hosted the first regional military competition on the law of armed conflict from December 5 – 8 2005. Over four days seven three-member teams representing the armed forces of Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Uganda and Rwanda sat tests in theory and practice to evaluate their level of knowledge on the law of armed conflict and their capacity to apply it in practice.

The three Kenyan officers won the final. They will represent Eastern Africa at the international competition on the law of war at the International Institute for Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy, in April 2006. The Ethiopian team were runners-up who, in a series of practical exercises on Tuesday, showed a great capacity to translate their knowledge of the law into operational decisions.

Throughout the four days, Rwandan and Tanzanian officers, representatives of universities and ICRC delegates evaluated the performance of the different teams. The jury was presided over by General James Kabarebe, Chief of General Staff of the Rwanda Defence Forces, assisted by Mr. Pierre Wettach, Head of Delegation of the ICRC in Rwanda, Colonel Robert Kibochi, Chief of Staff of the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade , and Ms Apophie Twiine, professor of international humanitarian at the National University of Rwanda.

At the start of the com petition Lieutenant Dambat Pierre Mike from Mauritius remarked, " This type of competition is crucial for armed forces. Most soldiers are mistaken in thinking that the law of armed conflict is an obstacle to the carrying out of their operations, even though, once respected, it actually reduces the suffering of the military as well as of civilians. "

Organized for the first time in Africa, the competition took place at the time where the African Union is creating regional standby brigades for use in peace support operations. In situations of armed conflict, the rules of conduct derived from the law of war must be respected. Being party to the Geneva Conventions and other international humanitarian law treaties, States show their willingness to respect these rules and to preserve a minimum of humanity in the case of war.

 Further Information :  

 Sophie Romanens, Communication Coordinator,  

 ICRC Kigali, Mob : (+ 250) 0830 5069