ICRC writing competition IV: Tackling COVID-19

The International Committee of the Red Cross is proud to organize for the fourth time a writing competition in Arabic to engage the Arabic speaking scholars on relevant IHL discussions and to provide an academic platform for legal debates.


Tackling COVID-19: Pandemics and International Humanitarian Law

As witnessed over recent months, the impact of COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus disease) has caused global disruption on all levels and affected the deepest structures of societies. Nevertheless, the fragile states and vulnerable communities, in particular areas affected by conflict, are most prone to disastrous threats to life in light of collapsed health systems, lack of water and sanitary items, overcrowding, the implausibility of social distancing, and limited income.

In these vulnerable areas, fighting such an outbreak in pandemics is almost impossible unless a stern, immediate response, and coherent international cooperation are undertaken by states and humanitarian organizations, as well as by non-state armed groups where applicable, to safeguard the most vulnerable communities. However, it becomes exceptionally challenging in light of its impact on developed states, as seen with COVID-19, in addition to the complexity of political considerations and military imperatives on the national, regional, and international levels. This is heightened by different actors’ preparedness to respond to such pandemics, its impact on military capacities, the resulting economic recession, relevant cyber-attacks on hospitals, and other political abuse/misuse of the situation.

Thus, such complexity raises many critical questions as to the existing legal frameworks applicable to safeguard vulnerable states and communities including in face of such pandemic spread and its consequences. It also triggers concerns with regard to the future of these legal frameworks and their efficiency in addressing the reverberating humanitarian impact.


 The topic can be tackled from different aspects, including - but not limited to - one or more of the following topics:

  • legal challenges linked to the consequences of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable groups (e.g. migrants, IDPs, refugees, people deprived of their freedom…etc.);
  • humanitarian access in light of pandemics and its aftermath (IHL and IHRL perspectives);
  • compliance with IHL/IHRL of existing states of emergency and other exceptional measures linked to COVID 19;
  • the role of NSAG in implementing IHL and IHRL protections during pandemics;
  • IHL rules on the management of dead and their application during pandemics;
  • the implications of COVID-19 on IHL contemporary challenges (e.g. counter-terrorism, cyber warfare, urban warfare, etc. – ref. to the ICRC’s 2019 IHL and Challenges Report)
  • cooperation, solidarity and responsibility-sharing of the humanitarian community in responding to pandemics.



The article should be written in Arabic.


Participants concerned:

. From Arabic-speaking States.

. No co-authoring allowed.

. ICRC staff will not be eligible for the award.



I. Preparation of manuscripts

. Originality: This is a research article that requires an original research idea. It should include your personal analysis based on different academic researches and data available

. Plagiarism: Avoid plagiarism, i.e. using some other person's ideas and information without crediting the source. Therefore, make sure you reference all ideas and information that are not originally yours - (Ref. below for guidelines on referencing)

. Abstract: All manuscripts should be accompanied by a short abstract (less than 100 words) summarizing the main content/argument of the article.

. Keywords: A few keywords should be identified for easy web search and referencing.

. CV: All manuscripts should be accompanied by a C.V. or short biography (one or two sentences per author) describing the current function/affiliation of the author.

. Font: Manuscripts should be submitted in Word format in 12 pt Times New Roman font with 1.5 line spacing (footnotes in 8 pt).

. Length: Manuscripts submitted should be approximately 10,000 words, footnotes included.

. Highlighting: No highlighting (bold, italics, underlined) should be used within the text body, except for italics for foreign language terms: e.g. a limine. Foreign organizations should not be set in italics.

. Headings and sub-headings: Please do not use more than 3 different levels of headings and sub-headings: (this is not inclusive of the research paper title).

  • Title Level 1
  • Title Level 2
  • Title Level 3


II. References and sources:

. Referencing style: Pick one referencing style and maintain it throughout the paper (footnotes, not in-text referencing).

. Internet References: For references available on the internet please indicate “available at:” followed by the full website link and the date of the last visit to the reference.

Example: …, available at  (accessed in March 2014).

. Sources: There are many ICRC publications and articles that can be found and used, in addition to other Arabic publications and articles. It is also encouraged that you use non-Arabic sources.


III. The editorial basics

. Punctuation: Rules of punctuation common in most of the Arabic countries has to be respected. 

. Dates: Use the following style: 1 February 1989.

. Numerals: We use Arabic numbers, not Hindi. Numerals below 100 should be spelled out, except for ages, which should always be given in digits.



 The ICRC has the honor to offer three awards:

The First place winner will receive a certificate and 1,500 US dollars. In addition, the article will be considered for publication by the ICRC

The Second place winner will receive Certificate and USD 1,000

The Third place winner will receive Certificate and USD 750

 *In case there are joint-winners in any of the above awards, the awarded monetary amount might be subjected to adjustment.



You are requested to send your article to before18:00 (Cairo Time), 30 July 2020.

Award announcement

The announcement will be within three months, on average. Please note that due to the high volume of submission, the ICRC will only contact the winners individually and will make a public announcement on the ICRC Website and the ICRC’s Arabic Facebook page. Therefore, keep an eye out for these pages for updates. 

If you require further information please contact