The 22nd International Committee of the Red Cross Essay Competition for East African Universities

The 22nd International Committee of the Red Cross Essay Competition for East African Universities

The use of autonomous weapon system (AWS) results in loss of human control and judgement in the use of force bringing serious humanitarian risks of harm for people affected by armed conflict – both civilians and combatants – challenges for compliance with international law, including IHL, and fundamental ethical concerns for humanity, in effect substituting human decisions about life and death by sensor, software and machine processes.


From the 19th to 21st Centuries, there has been a drastic transformation in the means and methods of warfare due to advancements in technology. The rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) have always been reactive to new advancements. Notwithstanding this, the development and use of autonomous weapons pose unique challenges in the application of IHL. Discuss this and offer potential solutions to overcome these challenges.


  • The competition is open to all undergraduate students from East African universities.
  • Essays must be typed, properly referenced, structured, and a bibliography provided.
  • Essays must not exceed 4000 words (including the footnotes but excluding the bibliography).
  • Any essay found to have been plagiarized will be disqualified from the competition.
  • The essay and a copy of the student's identification card must be received at the ICRC Regional Delegation in Nairobi by 30th June 2024 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 participating country not represented in the top 3 winners.


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 matter

Critical thinking
and Analysis
Structure, referencing,
and evidence of research


Best Essay USD 500
Second Best Essay USD 400
Third Best Essay USD 200
Best Country Paper USD 100

For further information please contact:

International Committee of the Red Cross
Communication Department, Nairobi Regional Delegation
Denis Pritt Road, P.O Box 73226 - 00200 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 2723963