Conference on the 70th Anniversary of International Humanitarian Laws

Co-hosted by International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and Avicenna University

October 24, 2019

Venue: Intercontinental Hotel

70th anniversary of adoption of International Humanitarian Law’s Conference was held jointly by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) and Avicenna University on October 24, 2019 in the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. International Humanitarian Laws reflected on the Geneva Conventions which is developed and ratified in 1949 to protect human life during arm conflicts which soon gained international respect. Participants of the conference were public and private universities lecturers, high officials of the government specifically from the Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court, Attorney General Office, Independent Human Rights Commission, civil society activists and staff of ICRC.

The conference started with citation of Holy Qoran and continued with the speeches of the Deputy Head of Delegation of the ICRC, Dr. Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, Chancellor of Avicenna University, Dr. Sima Samar, Minister of Human Rights Affairs, Dr. Nazhand Nizhad, Mr. Hassan Rezaee respectively and concluded by Mr. Yari, Legal Advisor of ICRC.

Deputy Head of Delegation of ICRC Speech

Deputy Head of Delegation of ICRC expressed that war and armed conflicts existed along the history of human kinds so individuals, associations, communities and states tried to limit and regulate armed conflicts and the most prominent symbols of these collective actions are the Geneva Conventions of 1949 conceptualized to protect civilians. According to her, ICRC is an independent, non-governmental and international organization known for advocating the implementation of the Geneva Conventions. Geneva Conventions have been ratified internationally including Afghanistan.

Afghanistan ratified these conventions in 1956 but nothing has been done to implement these conventions until 2001. Afghanistan began to implement the Geneva conventions after 2001 and one of those achievements for Afghanistan is the reflection of the criminalization of War Crimes in the panel code of 2017 and for full implementation of these conventions, government should strengthen rule of law implementation and integrate humanitarian laws with the universities curriculum. She requested from the participants to be the ambassador to maximize the impact of Geneva conventions on civilians during the armed conflict. She pointed out that ICRC has translated the commentary of article 3 of the Geneva conventions which is the common article of all 4 conventions and ICRC is developing new commentaries for all the Geneva conventions.

Dr. Amin Ahmadi Speech

The second speaker of the event was Dr. Mohammad Amin Ahmadi, Chancellor of Avicenna University who spoke about the distinction of human rights and international humanitarian rights. According to him, International humanitarian rights protect the rights of civilians during the armed conflict and human rights defend overall the rights of human. The first, has been trying to regulate armed conflicts and provide a human face for armed conflict as war is an inhuman phenomenon. According to Dr. Ahmadi, there are three basis for the international humanitarian laws; Doing Good, Protection of human dignity and criminalization of international humanitarian rights violation. Doing Good require human being to do good for others and help others which is the basis for the establishment of ICRC which is derived from religious culture. The second base of international humanitarian law is the protection of human dignity which is the base for human rights as well. Violation of international humanitarian laws has been criminalized by the international laws titled as crimes against humanity and it is included in Afghanistan panel code as well.

Dr. Sima Samar Speech

Dr. Samar began her speech welcoming the participants and expressed that both human rights and international humanitarian laws are entwined and support each other. International humanitarian laws are specifically supporting human rights during the armed conflict. She believes that full implementation of Geneva Conventions ensure human dignity and protect human life in the world. She expressed that Afghanistan has integrated Geneva conventions in their national laws but has difficulties in the implementation. Proxy wars, terror attacks and other forms of violence is happening every day, civilians are beheaded in their homes but difficult for the government to protect their lives. According to her, there is no political will to protect human life and to implement Geneva conventions. She pointed out that Afghanistan joined International Court for Crimes (ICC) but sill we don’t allow them to come to the Afghanistan to assess the war crimes which disappointed the war victims.

Dr. Abdulla Attayee, General Director of Judicial Education of the Supreme Court Speech

Dr Attayee welcomed all the participants and expressed that International Humanitarian Laws reflected in the Geneva Conventions are developed for the support of the most vulnerable and most disadvantaged group of the society so its implementation is more critical than the human rights. He summarized his speech in two categories:

Before 2001, Geneva Conventions were immensely violated by all parties involved in the armed conflict in Afghanistan because of no execution guarantee, no strong government and no relevant laws. From the development of Geneva conventions, specifically from 1956 until 2001, no reports were generated to show the progress on the implementation of Geneva conventions and its violations.

After 2001, the new elected government of Afghanistan began implementation of Geneva Conventions and integrated their provisions in their civil laws, documents and policies and also started developing reports of the implementation of the provisions. He pointed out that the provisions of the Geneva conventions are being thought to judiciary Setage students at the Supreme Court.

Dr. Attayee finally concluded his speech with delivering some recommendations to the government. Afghanistan’s achievements regarding the implementation of the Geneva conventions need to be maintained and the violations should not be under the “statute of limitations”. Criminals of armed conflicts should be responsive regarding their crimes through judicial mechanisms, victims of war should be compensated even if it is nominal and symbolic, violations of Geneva conventions should be thoroughly investigated and document for the sake of adjudications and compensations.

Dr. Rohani

Dr. Rohani started his speech with welcoming the participants and continued it with considering armed conflict as harsh reality of human history. He also pinpointed that international humanitarian laws are developed to protect human life during the armed conflict and expressed that there are some basic principles including principle of protecting human dignity, limiting use of weapons, necessity, appropriateness and distinctions. He mentioned that parties involved in armed conflicts need to consider human dignity and behalf each other as human being which is the basis of the international humanitarian laws. According to him, fighters are not allowed to use any kinds of weapons, anywhere with any scale with no restrictions. Nothing is unlimited during the armed conflicts and distinction should be made between armed individuals and military and also between military bases and civilian bases. Distinction should be made between allowed weapons and not allowed weapons, between allowed approaches and not allowed approaches, military bases via civilian communities, active military and passive military including injured ones, armed person and health worker or farmer.

Dr. Nazhand Manish

Dr. Nazhand Manish welcomed all participants and expressed his gratitude from ICRC and Avicenna University for co-hosting this conference. He continued his discussion differentiating between newly invented weapons using artificial intelligence like robots fighting as human and new approaches in armed conflicts like proxy wars which are challenging Geneva Conventions. The responsibilities using these kinds of newly invented weapons, goes to the person, organization that command using the armed conflict and those who use them. Principle of human dignity will be assured even using these weapons.

There was a short movie describing the disaster happening during the armed conflicts, how human lives are wasted, properties and public and privates goods are ruined. After the short movie, there were some questions raised by the participants and answered by the panel members. One of the questions was about the possibility of bringing transitional justice for the victims of civil war in Afghanistan where no violations are documented. According to the responses, evidences and proves are very important but when no evidence was provided then the international criminal court will form and authorize a commission to investigate. During the investigation, governments, civil activists and civil society organizations may play important role in finding out proves and documents.

Mr. Hassan Rezaee, Translator of the book “Commentary of Article 3 of Geneva Conventions”

In this part of the conference, commentary of article 3 of Geneva conventions which was published in a book in English Language and translated to Dari was inaugurated. He welcomed the participants of the conference and continued that there were some challenges against the translation of these kinds of technical and legal texts specifically for Afghanistan. He mentioned that there were some terminologies in English that cannot be found in Dari and mostly I used the terminologies that are being used in Kabul. He asked all the participants to read the book and provide feedback and comments so that the book will be better in later versions.

Mr. Yar Mohammad Yari, Legal Advisor of ICRC

Mr. Yari welcomed all the participants and explained that ICRC is established in Afghanistan to implement Geneva conventions and report its progress and support the government of Afghanistan in the implementation of the conventions and international humanitarian laws.

At the end of the conference, the book translated by Mr. Rezaee has been distributed to participants to read the book.