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Algeria: International colloquium on Emir Abdelkader and IHL

27-05-2013 News Release 13/98

Algiers (ICRC) – An international colloquium is to showcase Emir Abdelkader and international humanitarian law. The event in the Algiers suburb of Beni Messous will run from 28 to 30 May.

Organization is in the hands of the Emir Abdelkader foundation, working in partnership with the Algerian justice ministry, the ICRC and the Algerian Red Crescent.

The colloquium commemorates the 130th anniversary of Emir Abdelkader's death and the 150th anniversary of the ICRC. ICRC president Peter Maurer will be paying a four-day official visit to Algeria during the event.

Academics and other specialists from Algeria, Morocco, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will be discussing both Emir Abdelkader's contribution to modern humanitarian law and the issues involved in ensuring compliance.

"In the 19th century, two men – Emir Abdelkader and Henry Dunant, the founder of the international Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – shared a common humanitarian ideal: every soldier who was no longer able to fight, whether through injury or because he had been taken prisoner, should be spared, cared for and protected, without discrimination," explained Bruce Biber, who heads the ICRC's Algiers delegation.

Many years before international humanitarian law was put into writing, Emir Abdelkader had already drawn up a law concerning prisoners of war. They were to be treated humanely, regardless of their religion or nationality.

Modern international humanitarian law (IHL) is a set of rules designed to protect people who are not taking part in hostilities, including those who have been but are no longer doing so. IHL also sets limits on the means and methods of warfare. In particular, these rules are contained in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, to which Algeria signed up in 1960 and 1989 respectively.

IHL is as relevant today as it ever was, but needs strengthening in certain areas in order to better protect the victims of conflict. The colloquium will be looking at two areas related to this question: the protection of people detained during non-international armed conflicts and enhanced compliance with IHL. This event is just part of efforts to help the millions of people all over the world who suffer the consequences of armed conflict.

For further information, please contact:
Bruce Biber, ICRC Algiers, tel: +213 21 92 43 03
Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 49 or +41 79 244 64 05