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Bangladesh: Regional experts gather to discuss international humanitarian law

25-11-2013 News Release 13/207

Dhaka (MoFA and ICRC) – Bangladesh is hosting the 23rd South Asian Teaching Session (SATS) on international humanitarian law this year. The six-day training course, jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), will be held from 24 to 29 November.

"It is not just imperative for the State apparatus to have a sound understanding of international humanitarian law, it is increasingly becoming crucial to disseminate basic knowledge of the law among the general populace," said Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, foreign minister of Bangladesh, at the inaugural event held today at a local hotel. At his first public appearance since assuming office, the foreign minister highlighted the salient features of international humanitarian law in Bangladesh’s foreign policy pursuits concerning peacekeeping, disarmament and ongoing trials of crimes against humanity and genocide. Referring to the current conflicts in Syria, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the foreign minister said: "The global international humanitarian law regime remains our best bet to ensure that some semblance of sanity and humanity is maintained even in the midst of such mayhem and violence."

"As Bangladesh is one of the major contributors to peacekeeping operations all over the world, the integration of international humanitarian law is imperative for our work," said Md. Shahidul Haque, foreign secretary of Bangladesh, at the session’s opening.

A total of 45 government officials, academics and legal professionals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are taking part in the 23rd SATS. The academic programme consists of presentations and case studies linked to topics such as the protection of civilians, peacekeeping, the protection of cultural property, and the relationship between international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The sessions will be led by experts from the ICRC, the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh, the Islamic Foundation, Bangladeshi army headquarters, UN Women, UNESCO, UNHCR, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, National Law School of India University, and Dhaka University.

"This regional forum will facilitate exchanges between government officials and civil society representatives working in the fields of international law, policy and security across Asia," said Christine Cipolla, the head of the ICRC delegation in Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, the ICRC seeks to protect and assist people adversely affected by natural disasters and other emergencies requiring humanitarian aid. It promotes greater understanding of international humanitarian law among the authorities, academics, and law enforcement and armed forces personnel. The ICRC also works to improve access to physical rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities.

For further information, please contact:
Darko Jordanov, ICRC Dhaka, tel: +88 0171 413 38 58
Onchita Shadman, ICRC Dhaka, tel: +88 0175 562 14 56