Bruges Colloquim - experts discuss urban warfare

22 October 2015

Bruges (ICRC) - The 16th Bruges Colloquium on International Humanitarian Law, jointly organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the College of Europe, has taken place on Thursday 15th October and Friday 16th October 2015 in Bruges. This year's edition of the Colloquium has focused on "Urban warfare".

During a day and a half, leading academics and international experts examined a number of challenges raised by hostilities conducted in populated areas. Following welcome addresses made by Prof. Michele Chang (College of Europe) and Mr Walter Füllemann (Head of Delegation, ICRC Brussels), Prof. Yves Sandoz (Honorary Member of the Committee, ICRC) put into perspective the Colloquium's topic with the historical development of the rules on the conduct of hostilities over the twentieth century.

This year, presentations and debates were organised around four thematic sessions and two panel discussions. The first session, chaired by Ms Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza, dealt with the identification of military objectives in cities. This topic was covered by Ms Agnieszka Jachec-Neale, Mr Nobuo Hayashi and Col. Charles Barnett. Then, Mr Vaios Koutroulis and Mr Clive Baldwin addressed the precautions to take when carrying out attacks in urban areas during a second session chaired by Mr Andres Munoz. During session three, LtCol. Nathalie Durhin and Mr Marco Sassòli discussed the protection of civilians living in cities against the effects of hostilities, under the chairing of LtCol. Chris de Cock. The first day of the Colloquium ended with a panel discussion on the legality of siege warfare today; panel composed of Ms Françoise Hampson and Mr Sean Watts, and moderated by Mr Steven Hill. On Friday 16th October, Cpt. Guy Keinan, Mr Laurent Gisel and Mr Eric Jensen examined the prohibition on indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. This fourth session was chaired by Mr Paul Berman. During the second and last panel discussion, Ms Maya Brehm, Mr Mark Zeitoun, LtCol. Harry Konings and Mr Thomas de Saint Maurice reflected, under the chairing of Ms Françoise Hampson, on practices towards the reduction of human cost following the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The proceedings of the Colloquium's previous editions can be accessed online here. For all details on the next edition of the Bruges Colloquium, please click here.