The event was jointly organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the National Committee on International Humanitarian Law of China (NIHLC), and the International Academy of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IARC). The event gathered 40 participants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National People’s Congress, the National Cultural Heritage Administration, the Red Cross movement, the military and police forces, military industry enterprises, think tanks, and universities.
Thierry Meyrat, ICRC President’s personal envoy to China and Head of the ICRC Regional Delegation for East Asia, highlighted that humanitarianism and the principles of IHL are deeply rooted in Chinese Culture. He emphasized the importance of continuing to foster and strengthen IHL knowledge through IHL dissemination and shared collaboration.
Mr Wang Rupeng, Dean of the IARC, reiterated the importance of IHL noting that IARC strives to become a think tank for IHL and policy, providing Chinese wisdom and solutions to address global humanitarian issues.
The dissemination and promotion of IHL have always been part of the mandate of the ICRC. Since 2011, the ICRC has collaborated with esteemed institutions such as Peking University, China Foreign Affairs University, Jilin University, and China University of Political Science and Law to organize IHL summer sessions. Through years of effort, the event has become an important platform for exchanges and discussions on IHL.
Li Zijin, Deputy Dean of the School of Law and Politics at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, expressed that the five-day summer session has inspired her to further engage in teaching and researching IHL. She enthusiastically shared her plans, “In early September, I will be launching a pilot master’s course on ‘International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law’ at our school. I hope to bring the knowledge and experience I have gained in the beautiful city of Suzhou to the shores of West Lake, sowing the seeds of humanitarian law in the hearts of more students.”
Against the backdrop of China’s advocacy for strengthening International Law, learning and understanding IHL and the challenges faced by humanitarian action are of utmost significance to academia, government, and decision-makers in the armed forces. The summer session curriculum covered the fundamental theories and principles of IHL, humanitarian principles and action, as well as some contemporary topics in IHL and policy. Compared with previous summer sessions, this year’s program incorporated a few sessions on humanitarian actions, specifically focusing on issues and trends observed by the ICRC in the field.
According to Wang Yue, a lecturer from the School of International Organizations at Beijing Foreign Studies University, the event has deepened her understanding of the complex challenges that currently confront humanitarian action. She said, “In particular, I’m greatly impressed by the sessions on urban warfare. I’m enabled to see the significant roles IHL plays from the perspectives of commanders, civilians, and humanitarian organizations. The ultimate challenge lies in translating the slogan “Even war has rules” from a mere statement into a tangible reality during armed conflicts.”
The summer session incorporated a diverse range of teaching methodologies, including lectures, thematic sessions, case studies, group discussions, and supplementary readings. The esteemed faculty comprised renowned scholars from relevant fields in China, experts from the IARC, and legal advisors and professionals from the ICRC.
The event provided a unique platform for academic exchanges and dialogue among decision-makers, igniting their interests in humanitarian issues, deepening their understanding of IHL and the challenges of contemporary armed conflict, enhancing their understanding of principled humanitarian action, and inspiring them to be catalysts for progress, thus solidifying the foundation of IHL research and education in China.