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Colombia: World's top brass gather to boost compliance with law of war

04-10-2013 News Release 13/162

Bogotá/Geneva (ICRC) – Senior military officers from 50 countries will participate in the Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations (SWIRMO) 2013, which will be held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, from 7 to 11 October. The workshop, jointly hosted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Ministry of Defence of Colombia, will be taking place in the Americas for the first time.

"The military leaders will have the opportunity to exchange views and learn new ways of improving compliance with the law governing military operations," said ICRC Vice-President Christine Beerli, who is in Colombia to officially open the event. "They will use case studies and a scenario-based brigade exercise involving virtual imaging of a battle zone."

"We are extremely proud to be hosting this meeting, at which experts and top military officials from more than 50 countries will be discussing international laws governing military operations,” said Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombia’s defence minister. “SWIRMO Colombia is also an opportunity to show how our country is changing for the better."

SWIRMO 2013 will focus on the need to take international humanitarian law into account in the planning and conduct of military operations – especially in the decision-making process in combat and law-enforcement missions – and to ensure that the law is fully embraced in military doctrine and included in military education, field training and discipline. The aim is to encourage legally compliant behaviour across the entire spectrum of military operations.

Every year, the ICRC joins the armed forces of a selected country in hosting SWIRMO. Switzerland was the joint host in 2007, 2008 and 2010, France in 2009. The workshop was first held outside Europe when South Africa served as co-host in 2011 and Malaysia in 2012.

For further information, please contact:
Erika Tovar, ICRC Bogotá, tel: +57 311 491 0775
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 37 72 or +41 79 218 76 10, Twitter @AHeebICRC