15 November 2017 18:15 - 19:45

Feasible precautions in urban warfare: From law to practice

About the event

On 15 November 2017, the ICRC will hold an expert panel at the Humanitarium to discuss the need to enhance compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) during military operations in urban settings. More specifically, the panelists will discuss the obligation to take all feasible precautions and its role in avoiding harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure. What operational challenges do State and non-State armed groups face in fulfilling this obligation? The conference is part of the ICRC's Conference Cycle on War in cities.

We also welcome you to visit our exibition on War in cities at the same venue. Doors will open at 17:30. 

*The recording of this event can be found here.



The urbanization of warfare is growing and fighting too often takes place in cities. Fifty million people around the world are currently bearing the brunt of such hostilities. The obligation to take all feasible precautions plays a central role in protecting civilians in such conflicts and raises a series of legal and operational questions. This conference aims at reflecting on the legal requirement to take feasible precautions, as well as on the dilemmas and challenges in operationalizing this obligation. The discussion will draw on lessons-learned and best practices taken by State and non-State armed groups in order to tackle questions such as the following:

  • Which kinds of precautions in attack can and must be implemented, in order to avoid or at least minimize the direct and indirect effects of an attack?
  • Are there means to avoid or reduce the occurrence of fighting in urban areas and moving it to the country-side?
  • Which specific procedures and measures can be adopted to avoid or at least minimize civilian harm?
  • What can be done at the early planning stages, when considering operations in an urban area, in terms of mapping the future battlefield?


  • Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy, ICRC


  • Laurent Gisel, Legal Advisor, ICRC
  • Blaise Cathcart, QC, Major-General (ret.), Judge Advocate General, Canadian Armed Forces
  • Katherine Kramer, Acting Advisor on Explosive Weapons, Geneva Call
  • Adebayo Kareem, Head of Protection, Human Rights & Gender, AMISOM

Date & Time

15 November 2017 18:15 - 19:45

Venue address

17 avenue de la paix, 1202 Geneva