Group photo of participants of the “2023 Northeast, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference on International Humanitarian Law” held at the Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun on the morning of the 8th.

Seoul: State Representatives Discuss Contemporary Challenges and Opportunities to International Humanitarian Law

State representatives from 15 countries of Northeast, Southeast Asia and the Pacific region gather to take stock of modern challenges and find ways to enhance the respect and implementation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
Article 08 November 2023 Republic of Korea

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with the Korean National Red Cross (KNRC), and the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (ROK), is hosting the "2023 Northeast, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference on International Humanitarian Law (IHL)" in Seoul, ROK, from 8 to 10 November.

The Conference brings together over 15 State representatives from the region, including officials dealing with and experts of IHL from key ministries such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces. The event provides a forum where States share best practice and collaborate on IHL-related matters including the implementation and dissemination of IHL in their respective countries and to serve as a regional beacon for promoting and advancing IHL in the region and beyond.

At the opening ceremony, held on the morning of 8 November, Dr. Hwang Jun-shik, Director-General for International Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, delivered his welcoming remarks, mentioning, "it is meaningful to have this IHL Conference here in Korea as this year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Korean Armistice." Furthermore, he reaffirmed that in the age of digital transformation and innovation, Korea is committed to further engaging with the international community and the ICRC to deal with the challenges posed by the new emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and cyber operations in the field of IHL.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lee Sang-cheon, Secretary-General of the Korean National Red Cross, pointed out during his opening remarks, "Given the specific history and context of Korean peninsula, there is a need to raise awareness and knowledge of International Humanitarian Law among government officials, practitioners, and youth. I hope the ICRC and the Korean Red Cross will work together towards this goal."

During the keynote address, Ms. Jamila Hammami, ICRC Head of Mission in Seoul, underscored, "This is an important and timely occasion, which serves as an opportunity for States to come together to review some of the most pertinent topics of IHL in the Asia Pacific region."

The Conference will facilitate debate sessions that address the current challenges of contemporary armed conflicts. The Conference also seeks to highlight the importance and need to create a culture of respect for IHL in the region and beyond, to ensure the protection of civilian populations and to alleviate the humanitarian consequences of armed conflict. Topics like urban warfare and how to find innovative solutions to minimize harm to civilian lives and infrastructures will be discussed. Similarly, the longstanding trauma of missing, separated and the dead during armed conflicts and relevant IHL protections and obligations for the state parties will be explored. Another contemporary issue is the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous weapon systems (AWS), which raises various concerns about the compliance of new technologies with IHL rules. State representatives will discuss humanitarian challenges posed by new technologies and how to address them.

The ICRC has been organizing the Northeast, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Regional Conference on International Humanitarian Law since 2009. This is the fourth time the Republic of Korea has hosted the event.

About the ICRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial and independent organization with an exclusively humanitarian mandate that stems from the Geneva Conventions of 1949. It helps people around the world affected by armed conflict and other violence, doing everything it can to protect their lives and dignity and to relieve their suffering, often alongside its Red Cross and Red Crescent partners.

For further information, please contact:

Soyoung KIM (Seoul),, +82 10 7232 1575
Najum Iqbal (Beijing),, +86 131 2036 3813