Conference panellists and moderator (L to R): Catherine Gribbin, Senior Legal Adviser, Canadian Red Cross; Major Geoffrey Smith, Acting Assistant Judge Advocate General - Western Region, Canadian Armed Forces; Andrew Carswell, Senior Delegate to Canada, International Committee of the Red Cross; and UAlberta Law’s Professor Joanna Harrington.
Working in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross, UAlberta Law hosted a successful mini-conference on current challenges in international humanitarian law on February 10, 2017. The event was timely, with six staff members of the International Committee of the Red Cross having been killed earlier in the week in an apparent deliberate attack in Afghanistan, followed by an attack on a Red Cross/Red Crescent aid distribution centre near Aleppo, Syria. Under international humanitarian law, aid workers are protected, with that protection underpinning their ability to help people in areas affected by conflict.
The Friday afternoon conference featured presentations from senior legal advisers with the Canadian Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Canadian Armed Forces. UAlberta Law’s Professor Joanna Harrington –a member of the SSHRC-funded ‘Canadian Partnership for International Justice’ – co-organized the event and served as moderator.
A number of issues were brought forward for discussion both by the panellists and by audience members, including the enforcement of the law concerning who is protected during armed conflicts and the application of the law to non-state armed groups. A post-conference reception enabled many to continue these discussions on an informal basis, with several law students gaining an opportunity to learn directly from those in the field about a career in international humanitarian law.