Members of the Commonwealth and Red Cross and Crescent to discuss IHL in South Africa

Members of the Commonwealth and Red Cross and Crescent to discuss IHL in South Africa

Pretoria (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the government of South Africa (DIRCO), and the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) with support from the British Red Cross Society and the Commonwealth Secretariat will co-host the 6th Commonwealth Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference on International Humanitarian Law (IHL), a key opportunity to discuss the rules of war and their application.
News release 15 April 2024 South Africa

The conference, which takes place every four years, will be held in Pretoria, South Africa, from 15 to 19 April 2024. The event brings together representatives from government, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, as well as legal experts from over 30 Commonwealth countries. The conference aims to assess the implementation of IHL in different countries and share strategies for compliance and enforcement of IHL.

This gathering is of critical importance to focus on solutions and approaches to strengthen the international rule of law, and it is a strong signal to see it happening in South Africa, as the country has taken a strong stance in promoting humanity and encouraging dialogue to resolve conflicts and while much remains to be done to improve compliance in practice, the Geneva Conventions themselves are as relevant today as ever. Without the Geneva Conventions, the human cost of war would be infinitely higher. Our responsibility is to remind those who are involved in hostilities of their legal obligation to preserve minimum standards of humanity at all times.

Nils Melzer, Director of International Law, Policy, and Humanitarian Diplomacy at the ICRC

Echoing the sentiments on respect and compliance of IHL, the Head of ICRC in southern Africa, Jules Amoti stressed the importance of the Geneva Conventions , as 2024 marks their 75th anniversary. “While there have been a lot of questions about whether the Geneva Conventions (GCs) are still relevant; there would be no other way to monitor conflicts and assure that civilians and those no longer fighting are effectively protected without evoking the GCs”.

Molefe Takalo, Secretary-General of the South African Red Cross Society, added: “The displacement of families due to armed conflicts is a major issue, forcing them to flee their homes and often cross borders to seek refuge elsewhere. This can result in the loss of contact with loved ones. South Africa receives many refugees from around the region and beyond, and SARCS volunteers across the country are working on reconnecting families together. This is another way to alleviate the suffering of people affected by armed conflicts in their countries and a great need to ensure their basic needs are met and restore their dignity.”

The conference will offer a space to discuss the continued relevance of the Geneva Conventions, and pressing thematic issues including protection of persons and objects, sexual violence, the separated and missing, and the dignified treatment of the dead during armed conflict

 For more information, please contact:

Rodgers Baloyi, ICRC Pretoria, tel: +27724326397, email: