New Delhi delegation's newsletter: Debates and discussion

01-07-2014

The Fifth South Asia International Humanitarian Law Conference on ‘Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict’

Former Attorney General of Nepal Mr Yubaraj Sangroula chairs the panel discussion. ICRC legal advisers Mr Jamie Williamson from Geneva (L) and Mr Charles Sabga from Delhi (R) were the panellists 

Former Attorney General of Nepal Mr Yubaraj Sangroula chairs the panel discussion. ICRC legal advisers Mr Jamie Williamson from Geneva (L) and Mr Charles Sabga from Delhi (R) were the panellists
© ICRC / B. Rai

The Fifth South Asia Conference on IHL was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Law, Justice, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs, Government of Nepal, from 8-10 April 2014 in Kathmandu, Nepal. The topic ‘Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict’, an issue perceived sensitively, was discussed in light of violence against women, children and men. The agenda was conceived and constructed in a manner to allow the event to serve as a forum for states, stakeholders, the ICRC and partner organizations to address the issue and also to foster progressive steps towards formulation and implementation of domestic legislation to curb sexual violence.

The conference was well received and widely covered in the local media. The Asian-African Legal Consultative Organisation (AALCO) participated as an observer and the conference was attended by representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Defence, Law & Justice, Parliamentary Affairs and Women’s Affairs from many South Asian countries. The event also featured well-known academicians and members of civil society. ICRC legal experts from South Asia and from Geneva contributed constructively to the conference in various capacities, including as panelists and as Chair of Agenda in the sessions. The event featured a talk show-style format that enabled optimum utilisation of the forum and generated a spirited debate. It fortified the strong institutional relationship the ICRC shares with the Government of Nepal and also enhanced the prospects of strengthening existing institutional relationships with governments of other states that were represented at the conference.

__________________________

IHL experts show concern on new technology affecting modern battlefield at two-day workshop

Surinder Oberoi, Communications and Political Advisor, ICRC New Delhi interacts with the participants at the workshop 

Surinder Oberoi, Communications and Political Advisor, ICRC New Delhi interacts with the participants at the workshop
© ICRC / D. Singh

The ICRC Regional Delegation for India, Bhutan and the Maldives and the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) jointly organized a workshop on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) on 7 and 8 May 2014 at the AALCO Secretariat Headquarters in New Delhi. Since 2003, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding, the ICRC and AALCO have had a close collaboration and partnered in dissemination and promotion of IHL.

The two-day workshop welcomed over 100 participants, including members of several Diplomatic Missions of AALCO Member States and Observer States, representatives from various International Organizations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, legal experts from various countries and various academicians and researchers. The workshop agenda focused on contemporary challenges relating to IHL, developments and changes in the nature of armed violence in the twenty-first century and the legal implications related thereto. Experts from legal, juridical and military backgrounds engaged workshop participants in lively dialogue and debate on new methods and means of warfare (such as the use of drones) and the direct participation of civilians in hostilities.

At the end of this event, several workshop participants acknowledged the value of this event in bringing together government representatives, International Organisations, Academics, students and civil society to discuss emerging issues in IHL and their resolution.

__________________________

Workshop discusses innovations and applications in rural drinking water supply through solar powered water pumping systems

India’s Minister of State for Science and Technology Dr Jitendra Singh speaking at the inaugural session 

India’s Minister of State for Science and Technology Dr Jitendra Singh speaking at the inaugural session
© ICRC / A. Bhatia

ICRC in partnership with the Institution of Public Health Engineers organized a two-day workshop on solar powered water pumping systems − innovations and applications in rural drinking water supply in New Delhi on 19 and 20 June.

Inaugurating the workshop Dr. Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences (Independent Charge), said, “The 21st century is going to be the century of solar energy as far as energy sources are concerned. We therefore need to have more India oriented research and application and should work hard to nurture this area of solar energy so that fruits are borne by next generations.”

The workshop was being attended by senior retired government officials, representatives from state governments, subject experts, research agencies and manufacturing companies who highlighted different perspectives of designing solutions related to solar powered water pumping systems, while drawing experiences from different Indian states. While making an attempt to find a balance between opportunities, innovations, gaps and resources, the workshop also aimed at generating concrete recommendations for opening up gateways for better and innovative applications of rural drinking water supply.

__________________________

Discussion on IHL and challenges of contemporary armed conflicts in South Asia

(From left) Major General (Retd) K B Kapoor, Director, CENJOWS, and Lt Gen (Retd) AS Kalkat with Ms Mary Werntz, Head of ICRC Regional Delegation, on the sidelines of the panel discussion 

(From left) Major General (Retd) K B Kapoor, Director, CENJOWS, and Lt Gen (Retd) AS Kalkat with Ms Mary Werntz, Head of ICRC Regional Delegation, on the sidelines of the panel discussion
© ICRC / A. Bhatia

The Centre for Joint Warfare Studies (CENJOWS) and the ICRC recently organized a panel discussion on Contemporary Perspectives on the Interplay between IHL and International Human Rights Law (IHRL). The panel discussion, held in New Delhi on 23 May, was aimed at stimulating a discussion on IHL issues in order to increase awareness of IHL among the Indian armed and security forces. The panel also discussed the ICRC’s role in promoting IHL.

The ICRC informed the audience that it seeks to bring to South Asia the ongoing global discussion on new technologies of warfare and whether they comply with IHL and to facilitate dialogues on the topic between concerned actors.

Representatives of CENJOWS and serving officers from the Indian Armed Forces attended the activity. The chief guest at the event was Lt Gen (Retd) AS Kalkat, who has been the mentor of CENJOWS since its inception. The discussion was moderated by Rear Admiral (Retd) V S Chaudhari, NM and the topics were introduced by Air Commodore (Retd) T Chand.

Globally, the ICRC is calling upon the States to assess whether the new technologies they develop comply with IHL. While there can be no doubt that IHL applies to them, applying pre-existing legal rules to new technologies may raise the question of whether the rules are sufficiently clear in light of the new technologies’ specific characteristics and foreseeable humanitarian impact.