Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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Building knowledge in International Humanitarian Law for the Polisario Front

19th March 2011 | Western Sahara - Humanitarian norms

From 27 to 29 April 2011, Geneva Call, in cooperation with the Sanremo International Institute of Humanitarian Law, conducted a training course on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for five senior military officers of the Polisario Front.

The training was provided following discussions with the Polisario Front on deepening their knowledge of IHL. It addressed a range of topics, including fundamental principles of IHL, conduct of hostilities, means and methods of warfare, protected persons (civilians and hors de combat) and IHL implementation. A special session was devoted to humanitarian mine action as the Polisario Front is a signatory of the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment banning anti-­‐personnel mines.

The training course took place in Geneva. It was delivered for the most part by a consultant with vast experience in giving IHL training in military academies across the Arab world, and who is a former army officer of considerable standing. Keynote addresses and expert presentations on specific IHL issues were made by Honorary Professor George Abi-­‐Saab, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Geneva Call. The closing statement was made by Michel Veuthey, the Vice-­‐President of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

This was the first such comprehensive training course on IHL for the Polisario Front, whose representatives contributed with many questions and comments on general rules and their application to the situation in Western Sahara. Following the success of this initial course, a subsequent session for military trainers will take place later in the year at the Polisario Front military academy.

This course was also a successful opportunity to reinforce the collaboration between Geneva Call and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law. Such training follows the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1894, which stresses the need of providing IHL training to armed non-­‐State actors in order to achieve full and effective compliance.

Further IHL training sessions for other armed non-­‐State actors are being planned by Geneva Call and its partners.

For further information about Geneva Call’s work, or to find out how you can help, please contact Tim Carstairs at tcarstairs@genevacall.org or +41 22 879 10 50