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Australia: military practices expert workshop

06-12-2013 Event

The ICRC together with the Australian Government are hosting an internationalmilitary practices workshop focused on better protecting impartial health care in armed conflicts and other emergencies.

Event Info

Baghdad. Iraqi Red Crescent ambulance and a military tank cross paths in the town.

Where: Victoria Barracks, Sydney, Australia

When: 10.12.2013-12.12.2013



ICRC and the Australian Government


28 military experts from from more than 20 countries, including USA, UK, Australia, Brazil, China and Egypt.


Part of the global Health Care in Danger project, led by the ICRC, the workshop will gather military participants from around the world to share practical measures aimed at ensuring patients, health-care workers, facilities and medical transports are safeguarded from the consequences of military operations.

Violence against health care in armed conflicts and other emergencies is one of the world’s most urgent yet overlooked humanitarian tragedies, affecting millions. In May this year ICRC released a report analyzing 921 incidents of violence against health care collected from January 2012 to December 2012. The study showed that disregard for health care is – irrespective of the context – not confined to one particular set of actors. Figures revealed that both State security forces and armed non-State actors were responsible for a large proportion of the recorded incidents.

Prior to this week’s workshop, the ICRC carried out a series of confidential expert consultations with selected armed forces as a way to understand the issues at hand and identify practical military measures that can ensure safer access to and delivery of impartial health care.

As such, the Sydney workshop will concentrate on best practice in three key areas:

  • Minimizing delays - and avoiding denials - on the ground transportation of the sick and wounded (including enemy combatants), in particular through roadblocks or checkpoints
  • Minimizing the negative impacts on the effective running of health-care facilities and on the safety of both their staff and patients when conducting search operations in such facilities;
  • Minimizing incidental damage that may be caused when attacking military objectives in the vicinity of health-care facilities

In addition to identifying best practice, workshop participants will be asked to make practical recommendations to effectively integrate these measures into both the planning and the conduct of operations.

A final report based on the findings of the Sydney workshop will be released publicly in 2014.

See also:

Military assistance in facilitating safe access to health care - photo gallery

Even in situations of armed conflict, in the middle of a war or during a violent upheaval, it is still possible to ensure that the wounded and sick receive timely access to health care. Over the years, the role of the military has often been ambivalent in terms of facilitating access to health care.


Baghdad. Iraqi Red Crescent ambulance and a military tank cross paths in the town. 

Baghdad. Iraqi Red Crescent ambulance and a military tank cross paths in the town.
© ICRC / T. Gassmann / v-p-iq-e-00273

Military workshop participants 

Military workshop participants


Military workshop participants


Military workshop participants
© ICRC / Military workshop participants