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Ethiopia: First course on law of war for instructors of the Ethiopian Ground Forces

12-05-2003 News Release 03/53

The first corps-level course in Ethiopia for law of armed conflict (LOAC) instructors has just come to an end in Awassa.

Organized and taught by the ICRC in coordination with the Ethiopian Army’s Department of Operations, the 10-day course provided training for 38 commanding officers of the Awassa Military Corps and officers from the Legal and Training Departments.

Corps commander Gen. Abraha Wolde Mariam highlighted the importance of professionalism in the armed forces, adding, “Knowledge of LOAC and its full integration into all levels of command are an essential part of this”. ICRC head of delegation Alain Aeschlimann emphasized that “To be respected, international humanitarian law must be known.” He described the course as “a milestone in the integration of international humanitarian law into the Ethiopian Ground Forces.”

LOAC regulates the means and methods of warfare, and consists of the Geneva Conventions, their Additional Protocols, and other international treaties. Better known outside military circles as “international humanitarian law”, it does not prohibit war, but rather strikes a balance between military necessity and the demands of humanity. It requires belligerents to maintain a degree of humanity on the battlefield – to avoid harming non-combatants, for instance – and imposes limitations on means and methods of warfare.

The aim of the course was to give Ethiopian officers the knowledge and skills to integrate LOAC into the training programmes of the Awassa Military Corps. Topics included the protection granted to civilians and to cultural objects, respect for medical personnel and for facilities bearing the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblems, and limitations on means of combat.

In the coming weeks and months, the ICRC will hold similar LOAC cours es for other Ethiopian military corps, for Ethiopian Ground Forces training establishments and for the Ethiopian Air Force.

 Further information: Gianni Volpin, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel.: ++ 2511 518 366