The 19th ICRC essay competition for East African universities

The 19th ICRC essay competition for East African universities

Our annual essay competition is here with us again. We encourage students to register, research, and send in their best essays for the question set for this year`s theme.


"A central feature of the changing geopolitical landscape of the last decade has been the proliferation of non-State armed groups. In some of the most complex recent conflicts, analysts observed hundreds, if not thousands, of groups engaging in armed violence. Their size, structure, and capabilities vary widely. While large groups with centralized and well-defined command-and-control structures continue to arise or to exist, other groups are decentralized in their structure and operate in fluid alliances. In this myriad of armed actors, the motivation for violence seems increasingly blurred between political, religious, and criminal interests." ICRC 2019 Report on International Humanitarian Law and the Challenges of Contemporary Armed Conflicts.

The multiplicity of armed groups and the fluidity in their operations give rise to a myriad of legal and practical challenges such as the applicability of IHL to conflicts involving multiple non-State armed groups; the legal regime protecting persons living in territory under the de facto control of non-State armed groups; and legal and practical dilemmas regarding detention by armed groups.

Critically analyze and discuss legal and practical challenges identified in the statement above.


  • The competition is open to all undergraduate students from Eastern Africa universities.
  • Essays must be typed, properly referenced and structured, and a bibliography provided.
  • Any essay found to have been plagiarized will be disqualified from the competition.
  • Essays must not exceed 4000 words (including the footnotes but excluding the bibliography)
  • The essay and a copy of the student's identification card must be received at the ICRC Regional Office in Nairobi by 30 June 2021 by email ( Late entries will not be accepted.
  • The winner of the competition will receive 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.


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 criteria will be awarded points as below:

Knowledge of the subject matter40
Critical thinking and Analysis30
Structure, referencing, and evidence of research30


  • Best Essay – CHF 350
  • 2nd Best Essay – CHF 250
  • 3rd Best Essay – CHF 100
  • Top in each country – CHF 50


Useful resources:


For further information please contact:

The International Committee of the Red Cross,
Communication Department, Nairobi Regional Delegation,
Denis Pritt Road, P.O. Box 73226 - 00200 Nairobi, Kenya,

Tel: +254 20 272 3963/ 271 3369 or Hillary Kiboro +254 706 110 126,
Fax: +254 20 271 3003, E-mail: