Senior staff of DPRK Red Cross discuss laws of war at workshop

Article 01 November 2018 Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Thirty senior members of the Red Cross Society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) took part in a workshop on international humanitarian law (IHL) organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Pyongyang, from 9 to 11 October. This is the first time that such a workshop was organized in the country.

Mr. Jon Song Ryong, the deputy secretary general of the DPRK Red Cross, along with heads of department and project managers, took part in the two-day workshop, which gave participants an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the rules that regulate how wars are fought in order to limit the devastating effects of armed conflict.

Mr. Larry Maybee, the deputy head of the ICRC regional delegation in Beijing, covered a broad range of IHL topics through presentations and case studies designed to highlight some of the most pressing and relevant issues seen in conflicts around the world today.

"The aim of this workshop was to give the participants a general overview of IHL and its various components, touching upon some of the most challenging issues we see in modern-day armed conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world," said Mr. Maybee. "We hoped that this introduction to the subject would raise awareness and generate an interest among the participants to further explore IHL as part of their humanitarian work with the DPRK Red Cross. Judging from their keen interest and active participation, it seems we met this objective."

The workshop is expected to lead to other opportunities for IHL training and capacity-building in the DPRK in the future, as well as engagement with other sectors of the society.

Participants from the DPRK Red Cross work on a case study on "Targeting in conflict" during the workshop ©CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Bart Vermeiren

Meanwhile, the DPRK Red Cross, supported by the ICRC, is also planning to distribute 500 copies of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols in the Korean language to strengthen awareness and understanding of the rule of armed conflict. In 2019, ICRC will also support the position of an IHL focal point within the DPRK Red Cross.

Close to 30 people took part in the IHL workshop in Pyongyang. ©CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / Bart Vermeiren

As a neutral and independent humanitarian organization, the ICRC protects and assists those affected by armed conflict and other armed violence. Part of this mandate includes the promotion and development of IHL, leading to better compliance among belligerents during war time.

Thanks to its unique mandate, the ICRC has been working in the DPRK since 2002 as one of the few humanitarian organizations operating in the country. In 2018, its activities are focused on physical rehabilitation, health, peri-urban water supply and sanitation, remnant weapon contamination related to the Korean War, emergency preparedness, promotion of the IHL and capacity building of the National Society.