ICRC presentation

ICRC trains future EU diplomats building stronger support for IHL

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently participated in training 22 diplomats from different countries of the European Union (EU). This initiative was inscribed in the second edition of the European Diplomatic Academy, a project by the European External Action Service and implemented by the College of Europe, two crucial ICRC partners.
Article 18 December 2023 Belgium

Empowering the diplomats of tomorrow

At the heart of this initiative lies an effort to empower diplomats within their first five years of service, steering them toward assignments in Permanent Missions to the EU, or EU Institutions in Brussels and around the globe. The ICRC took the stage, offering an introduction to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and humanitarian operations.
The focus of the training was multifaceted, delving into key areas such as understanding the tools at the EU's disposal to foster respect and compliance with IHL. The participants were immersed in the nuances of situations where IHL applies or doesn't, gaining insights into the ICRC's mandate and legal provisions in diverse scenarios. The training further extended to unravelling the working methods of the ICRC and the humanitarian principles that underpin humanitarian operations.

Fostering common understandings

The training also shed light on the points of contact between the ICRC and the European Union, spotlighting the EU's common security and defence policy, a crucial EU foreign policy tool with critical implications for the ICRC work.
In a world where diplomacy and humanitarian efforts are intrinsically linked, this collaboration is a testament to the shared commitment to upholding principles that transcend borders and the collaborative efforts needed to shape the current and future humanitarian landscape.

Growing support for humanitarian principles

Raising awareness of IHL amongst young diplomats from diverse professional backgrounds and introducing them to the mission of the ICRC early in their careers is also a strategic move with lasting implications. By passing this foundational knowledge, participants are equipped with an understanding of the complexities surrounding humanitarian issues from the outset of their careers, and will be more inclined to support humanitarian principles and causes throughout their diplomatic journeys. 


Being offered to present IHL and the work of the ICRC to junior EU diplomats is a great opportunity to sensitize them to the importance of considering IHL in the external action of the EU and to give them the keys to build and further develop the "IHL reflex" in the framework of their future postings. The EU and its Member States have many tools to support greater compliance with IHL, including the EU Guidelines on promoting compliance with IHL. Leveraging their position to promote compliance with IHL is crucial for the EU and its Member States to implement the obligation to respect and ensure respect for IHL.

Pauline Warnotte, ICRC Senior Legal Advisor