The 18th ICRC essay competition for East African universities

27 April 2020
The 18th ICRC essay competition for East African universities


"In recent years, States have had to confront a threat emanating from individuals and non-State armed groups that resort to acts of terrorism. In response, States and international organizations have developed increasingly robust counterterrorism measures... The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) condemns acts of terrorism regardless of their perpetrators, whether or not they are committed in the context of armed conflict. At the same time, the ICRC is concerned about the humanitarian consequences of counterterrorism operations...

The ICRC is worried by the frequently held misperception that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) does not apply or applies in a modified manner to groups or persons designated as terrorists, and to their families. [At the same time, the ICRC is concerned about] penal laws criminalizing any form of support to individuals or groups designated as 'terrorists'.... [which] have impeded – or even prevented – impartial humanitarian action, to the detriment of those in need." Extract from the ICRC 2019 Report on International Humanitarian Law and the Challenges of Contemporary Armed Conflicts.

Critically analyze and discuss challenges posed to IHL by counterterrorism measures.


  • The competition is open to all undergraduate students from Eastern Africa universities.
  • Essays must be typed, properly referenced and structured, and a bibliography provided.
  • Essays must not exceed 4,000 words (including the footnotes but excluding the bibliography)
  • The essay and a copy of student's identification card must be received at the ICRC regional office in Nairobi by 14 August 2020 by email ( Late entries will not be accepted.
  • The winner of the competition will receive sponsorship to attend an International Humanitarian Law Course and a cash prize. There will also be awards for the first and second runners-up, as well as for the best essay from each country.

Assessment Guide

Participants will be assessed on their logical arguments, the depth to which they develop their answers, structure and demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter. Each of the criterion will be awarded points as below:

Knowledge of the subject matterCritical thinking and AnalysisStructure, referencing and evidence of researchTotal


For further information please contact:

The International Committee of the Red Cross,
Communication Department, Nairobi Regional Delegation,
Hillary Kiboro +254 706 110 126