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International Committee of the Red Cross

International Committee of the Red Cross

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Published by: impunitywatch on Jul 01, 2011
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International Committee of the Red Cross
Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada
In This Issue:
ICRC News fromAround the Globe
News and Notes
June 2011
This edition of the newsletter, distributed today in honor of
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (June 26),focuses on 
international humanitarian law (IHL).First, Jamie Williamson, Legal Adviser in ICRC Washington from 2008-2011, and Paul Kong, Programme Officer in ICRC Washington from2009-2011, share their experiences in promoting IHL in the US. Moving from the local to the global, we highlight the ICRC's study on
on this subject.One of the key areas recommended to be addressed in the ICRC study 
is detention. In recognition of this, and again to honor yesterday's
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we bring youa summary of ICRC's recently released Policy on Torture. 
Finally, you will find a photo gallery from a recent Humanitarian
Law Moot Court Competition held in China.While our work in
Washington focuses on North America,we want to highlight that the ICRC's work on promoting IHL is global, and highlight this recent example of our colleagues' work in Asia.  As always, please write us with your thoughts and feedback. Kind regards,The ICRC Washington Delegation
Interviews: ICRC Washington and the Promotion of International Humanitarian Law
As part of the  ICRC s mandate, the  Regional Delegation of the 
United States and Canada  works to promote an understanding and awareness of IHL with current and future policymakers. It does this through bilateral meetings, panels and events with external hosts. The delegation also holds  IHL workshops for  students, faculty, and influential actors in DC's policy arena.This month we take a moment to discuss this important aspect of our work with two former colleagues, Jamie Williamson, Legal Adviser, and Paul Kong, Programme Officer.
Jamie Allen Williamson, Legal
As Legal Adviser, Jamie Williamson headed a team of lawyers that offers its expertise and practical experience of conflicts to help the U.S. and Canadian governments to fulfill their responsibilities to promote and implement statutory and customary IHL. He further provided legal support during the 
In 2010, ICRC water, sanitation and construction activities helped some10 million people, and food wasdistributed to nearly 5 million -among many other activties that arepart of the organization's mandate toprotect the lives and dignity of victims of war and to promoterespect for internationalhumanitarian law.For more information on the ICRC's activities in 2010, take a look at the2010 Annual Report (click below).
However, in 2011, with new crises inLibya and Côte d'Ivoire as well as
decade-old conflicts, humanitarianneeds have reached unprecedentedlevels. For a deeper look at the year to come, click below to watch aninterview with Pierre Krähenbühl,ICRC Director of Operations.
Reflections on 2010,Challenges of 2011
challenging sexual violence
detention visits we undertake in Guantanamo. In addition, Jamie served as a guest speaker on numerous panels and in conferences.
Why did you want to work for the ICRC in Washington?
Following 9/11, questions were raised about the adequacy ofIHL, in particular in the context of modern day asymmetricwarfare. A mission with the ICRC in Washington provided afabulous opportunity to be in an environment where internationalhumanitarian law was continuously being debated and tested inthe context of various conflicts. Being able to work on the manycomplex legal issues was certainly going to be rewarding andnever a dull experience. Who could not want such a challenge?
Could you describe your work these past few years with theICRC Regional Delegation for the U.S. and Canada? Whatdoes the legal team in ICRC Washington do? What weresome key high points?
 From advising on the many issues arising out of Guantanamo,Afghanistan and Iraq with the US Government and the military,to debating the merits of the ICRC's direct participation in hostilities guidance with JAGs and academia, and meeting withinternees in Guantanamo, every day brought something new tothe table. For the legal team, working closely with the otherdepartments, at times we had to concede that the law does notnecessarily provide all of the answers. That is no bad thing.Indeed, to be looking beyond pure law to find ways to alleviatesuffering in armed conflicts, and instead to turn to moralobligations and humanitarian policy is an all the more interestingdimension of the work as ICRC legal adviser.One of the high points of the mission formed the ExecutiveOrders,signed by President Obama in January 2009, whichimportantly reaffirmed the relevance of the US' commitment tothe Geneva Conventions,and reiterated that the ICRC was to be given full access to DoD facilities. Also the invitee turnout atthe delegation's event for the 60th anniversary of the GenevaConventions at the Newseum in August 2009 testified to the special place given to IHL and to humanitarian values.
What do you see as the major upcoming hot topics ininternational humanitarian law in the United States andCanada?
 New technologies, such as cyberwarfare, the expansion of thetraditional battlefield, and detention in non-international armedconflicts, will certainly all be areas of particular relevance as theface of modern armed conflict evolves. The challenge with thesenew trends is to ensure that IHL is not simply dismissed as an antiquated body of law, but rather, as has been shown over thepast few years, that it is as relevant and necessary today as itwas at the turn of last century.
Before the ICRC, you served for several years with differentUN Tribunals. Can you share how your career hasdeveloped within the field of international law? Do you haveany advice for those considering a career in internationallaw?
The latest Red Cross Red CrescentMagazine focuses on the issue of 
based violance can occur at anytime, anywhere. But its prevalence ismagnified during emergenciesbecause of the absence of law andorder, the lack of support servicesand the breakdown of communitynetworks. Also in this issue: Volunteersthrough time; Natural disaster, asociety's greatest test; andHumanitarianism, does relief prolongwar?
NEW ICRC Film: Clearing Weapon
The city of Ajdabiya has been thescene of heavy fighting betweenrebels and pro-Gaddafi forces. Whilethe battle lines have moved on,many people are not returning homebecause of the threat posed byunexploded munitions such asrockets, shells and mortars. TheICRC is the first to start clearing
I have been very fortunate in being able to work in the field ofinternational law since the early 1990's. Working with the UNTribunals during their formative years and then with the ICRC inSouthern Africa and in the US, I have witnessed both the bestand the worst that conflict can bring out of individuals. I can onlyencourage those seeking to start a career in this field, especiallyas international law is now more than ever making headlinenews.
Paul Kong, Programme Officer
As Programme Officer in our Public and Congressional Affairs Department, Paul Kong oversaw outreach to academic institutions. For the ICRC, partnerships with universities are vital in its efforts to foster respect for IHL. In his position, Mr. Kong organized workshops for law students and faculty, as well as select government representatives, on IHL and its application to the conflicts in which the US is involved today. He also encouraged law schools to offer more courses on that subject and provided them with guidance and resources.
Describe your experience working with the ICRC? Whatwere some key high and low points?
 After a decade of conflict, interlocutors in the U.S. and Canadanow know of the ICRC's unique role, either having worked or interacted with ICRC delegates. It is gratifying that the ICRC is aknown entity in North America,at least in certain circles. It also is a sad reality that it takes a conflict to really understand theorganization.
How does the ICRC Washington delegation approach itsoutreach to U.S. and Canadian universities?
The focus the past two years has been on training faculty toteach IHL, a tall endeavor since there are approximately 220 law schools in the U.S. and Canada, and even more graduateschools and college programs focusing on internationalrelations.
The ICRC is fortunate to collaborate with numerousrespected and influential institutions in its efforts topromote IHL. What partnerships stand out in your memoryfor having developed or grown during your time at ICRC?
 I particularly enjoyed my relationships with the law schools andfaculty at Santa Clara University,theUniversity of California at
Berkeley and Emory University.Lecturing at the service
definitely a highlight and memory I will cherish.
What recent successes stand out in your memory withregard to the promotion of IHL in the U.S. or Canada?
The delegation benefited from lecturing to and training U.S. andCanadian professionals in IHL. For example, lawyers from theJustice ministries, policy staffers from Congress, the intelligenceservices and the Judge Advocate General's Corps.
After 2 years with the ICRC, what do you take from thisexperience?
 The ICRC fulfills a unique role as a neutral and independent actor in situations of armed conflict.Whether you agree ordisagree with its methods, it has been truly eye-opening to see

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