ICRC’s Fifth IHL Arabic Writing Competition

ICRC’s Fifth IHL Arabic Writing Competition

The Regional International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Department at the International Committee of the Red Cross is proud to organize for the fifth 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.


Climate change, Environment, and Armed Conflict

The writing competition:

This legal writing competition is dedicated to providing academics and aspiring researchers with a space to explore the link between climate change and conflict through assessing the humanitarian implications of climate change and environmental degradation – with a special emphasis on water given its relevance in our region - and how to correspond IHL implementation and interpretation to address these growing humanitarian issues. It seizes the opportunity in under-researched and increasingly relevant global and regional priorities, allowing room for innovation and originality in the Arabic-speaking region.

More guidance on the topic

Climate change is a fact threatening our present and future. Today’s climate and environmental crises threaten the survival of humanity. They affect all aspects of our lives, from our physical and mental health to our food, water, and economic security. It has even been classified as a security threat by several countries and international, regional, and supranational organizations.

Climate change and environmental degradation are often correlated, both contributing to increasing the strain on natural resources- including already scarce water supplies that proved to challenge health, food, and economic security in conflict-affected communities such as Iraq and Yemen. They also have complex implications for, among others, armed conflicts, human rights, discrimination, migration, and displacement, with direct and indirect negative impact and far-reaching effects that contributed to current humanitarian needs, development reversals, and systemic breakdown, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states. Required humanitarian aid might double by 2050 if urgent steps are not taken. (IFRC, 2019)

With regards to armed conflicts, some 60 % of the 25 countries considered the most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to climate change by the NG-Gain Index are in conflict. While there is no direct link between climate change and conflict, the relationship between the two is complex. Armed conflicts directly harm the ecosystems civilians rely on to survive while environmental degradation and climate shocks exacerbate the suffering of victims, existing vulnerabilities and inequalities in situations of armed conflict, and other situations of violence (OSV). It also fuels tensions between groups and influences migration/displacement patterns. Such exacerbations are attributed to people being ill-equipped to cope with any new shock. Thus, climate change could contribute to increasing the likelihood of instigating, intensifying, or prolonging conflicts, OSV or humanitarian emergency, and its humanitarian implications, in conjunction with many other factors such as weak governance.

The impact of climate change is further convoluted with institutional weakness which is evident in the responses of the international community and institutions, or lack thereof, to halt the rigorous deterioration of climate change or adapting to its impact. This is due to a combination of legislative/policy gaps, political and economic considerations, and shortcomings in resilience-related knowledge, practice, and finance to help communities adapt to a changing climate in already complex situations of conflict.

In the ICRC, questions of the environment, climate change, and resilience of affected communities continue to be at the forefront of our legal and operational work. However, this is not easy, not only because of the complexity of armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, in addition to the impact of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, but also because there is more work to do to further explore the implications of climate change in conflict-affected areas and OSVs: for the protection of civilians, the protection of the environment - including water scarcity issues - the ways wars are fought in armed conflict, as well as implications for the interpretation and application of IHL.

Suggested topics

The topic can be tackled from different aspects, including - but not limited to - one or more of the following topics:
- The correlation between climate change and armed conflict – jus in bello (international or non-international armed conflict)
- General IHL rules and principles or IHL priority topics (e.g. Healthcare-in-danger, urban warfare) and their link to climate change and the environment
- Adapting IHL implementation to respond to climate change
- Legal challenges linked to climate change and displacement and non-refoulement in armed conflicts
- Climate change, Water and Conflict
- Applicable legal framework during armed conflicts in relation to climate change
- Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions: States' obligation to respect and ensure respect with regards to climate change
- NSAGs obligation to respect and ensure respect with regards to IHL in relation to climate change
- IHL’s conduct of hostilities obligation to have due regard to the protection and preservation of the natural environment: What are the implications for taking climate impacts into account?
- New IHL Guidelines on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict: Identifying relevance for climate and/or water crises
- How does IHL address the cumulative complex humanitarian impact of conflict and climate change?
- Assessing the role of the civil society and the humanitarian organizations, in specific the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, to adequately respond to climate change and support the resilience of populations to adapt to the cumulative impacts of climate risks and conflicts
- IHL implementation and other national measures to tackle climate change and safeguard the environment in states with armed conflicts or OSV– what is there and what is needed


The article should be written in Arabic.

Participants concerned
- ICRC staff will not be eligible for the award.
- From the Arabic-speaking States.
- No co-authoring allowed.


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: www.icrc.org/eng/resources/international-review/index.jsp  (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 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:

  1. The First place winner will receive a certificate and 1500 USD.
  2. The Second place winner will receive a Certificate and 1000 USD.
  3. The Third place winner will receive a Certificate and 750 USD.

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

In addition, the article will be considered for publication by the ICRC in the upcoming IRRC symposium edition dedicated to the Environment and IHL.


You are requested to send your article to olotfy@icrc.org before 18:00 (Cairo Time), 1 November 2021.

Award Announcement

The announcement will be within three months, on average. Please note that due to the high volume of submissions, 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 olotfy@icrc.org