RSIS-ICRC SEMINAR on “Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions: An Updated Interpretation for Contemporary Humanitarian Challenges”
The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Programme (HADR) at the NTS Centre organized a seminar titled ‘Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions: An Updated Interpretation for Contemporary Humanitarian Challenges’ in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The event was held at the KeyPoint on Wednesday, 21 September 2016 with Ms Kelisiana Thynne, Regional Legal Advisor for South East Asia and Ms Fiona Barnaby, Legal Adviser, International Humanitarian Law Department, ICRC, Kuala Lumpur as the speakers and Dr Alistair D. B. Cook as the discussant. The seminar was moderated by Associate Professor Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies.
The speakers provided a brief historical background on the Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions. Subsequently, they explained on their current project to re-interpret and update the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 in the form of commentaries, based on the current geopolitical situation.
The updated Commentary to the First Geneva Convention was launched on 22 March 2016. The First Geneva Convention, which is a foundational text for international humanitarian law (IHL) provides for the protection of the wounded and sick; the dead; medical personnel, facilities and transport; and the distinctive emblems of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The speakers, Ms Thynne and Ms Barnaby discussed about the newly emerging actors in modern warfare and the difficulties in implementing IHL as a result of changes. It also highlighted the impact of technological advancements in IHL and in improving medical operations in times of crises. The discussant, Dr Cook, wrapped up the seminar by addressing the contribution of the commentaries to the interpretation of IHL and what it means to Singapore and the ASEAN region. The seminar was well-received by the audience who were mainly students currently pursuing their Master of Science in RSIS.