Shanghai (ICRC) – The Regional Delegation for East Asia of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Tongji University Law School co-organized a seminar on the Contemporary Development of the Law of Armed Conflict at Sea: From 1949 to 2023. The event, held on June 10, 2023, at Tongji University in Shanghai, brought together over 90 participants from institutions including the National People’s Congress, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Military Academies, Secretariat of the National Committee on the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), renowned universities, and think tanks.
Modern naval warfare can lead to significant humanitarian consequences as such it remains a key concern for the ICRC, governments, military forces, and the academic community worldwide. The seminar sought to foster an in-depth discussion between practitioners and academics regarding relevant issues in the law as well as future development. By highlighting the continued relevance and growing importance of law of armed conflict at sea, it aims to enhance understanding and compliance with this legal framework.
Thierry Meyrat, Personal Envoy of the ICRC President to China and Head of the ICRC’s Regional Delegation for East Asia, delivered an opening speech, recognizing China’s role and contribution to the development and implementation of IHL., “Through enhanced ratification, strengthening domestic legal framework, and providing dissemination and capacity-building for its armed forces, China can pave a roadmap for the respect of IHL domestically and globally.” said Meyrat.
Prof. Lv Peiming, Executive Vice President of Tongji University, praised the seminar for bringing together esteemed experts and scholars from various fields. He also highlighted the importance of addressing diverse topics. “These elements demonstrate the conference’s upscale nature, the importance of the theme, the active participation of attendees, and the organizers’ influential role.” He said.
On the other hand, Andre Smit, ICRC Regional Legal Adviser on Maritime Matters for Asia Pacific, emphasized that the seminar offers an exceptional occasion to once again reaffirm the universality and relevance of IHL, underscoring the importance of discussing, disseminating, studying the law, and incorporating it into military practices.
The seminar has also witnessed the launch of the Chinese version of the updated commentary on the Second Geneva Conventions. Marwa Shabbar, Head of the Legal Department of the Regional Delegation, introduced the ICRC’s updated commentaries project on the Geneva Conventions. She said, this article-by-article Commentary, reflecting developments in law and practice over the past seven decades, provides a valuable tool for practitioners and academics alike.
Dr. Liang Jie, Senior Colonel from the Academy of Political Science of the National Defense University, provided a peer reviewer’s perspective on the updated commentary. She said the Chinese commentary is in line with contemporary developments and reflects certain “Chinese elements”. “The launch of the Chinese version is a long-awaited event for the Chinese military, especially the navy, as well as Chinese-speaking military personnel and local scholars in the field of warfare law.” She commented.
The seminar focused on the contemporary development and challenges of the law of armed conflict at sea, examining both the means and methods of naval warfare and the balance between military necessity and humanitarian needs. The updated commentary on the Second Geneva Conventions served as a powerful tool for experts and scholars to engage in these discussions.
As organizers of the event, both the ICRC and Tongji University have emphasized their commitment to further collaboration in advancing the development and implementation of IHL in China. They hope that their joint efforts can help enhance the protection of victims of armed conflicts at sea, uphold the principles of humanity and increase respect for IHL.
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