The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) [official website] and the Swiss Armed Forces on Monday began their second annual Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations (SWIRMO) [official website; press release], designed this year to teach senior military officials from 51 countries how to apply the rules of war during military training and conflict. The two-week workshop focuses on the ICRC's integration process [ICRC integration booklet, PDF] by which armed forces fully and successfully comply with international law during conflicts. ICRC director of communication Yves Daccord said of the workshop:
It is civilians who suffer most in armed conflicts around the world. Today, civilians account for the overwhelming majority of war casualties. But this can change. By making international humanitarian law more easily understandable and accessible to military personnel, the ICRC hopes to give combatants the guidance they need to make the right choices. It is imperative that knowledge of the rules also results in behavior that follows the rules.The first week will focus on teaching choice of law in various conflicts, leadership responsibilities, and how to integrate international law into combat situations, while the second week will involve practical demonstrations by the Swiss Armed Forces. Reuters has more.
The ICRC is formally entrusted under the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols [materials] with protecting the victims of armed conflict and with promoting international humanitarian law in violent situations. In furtherance of this mandate, SWIRMO will be held every year alternating between Switzerland and another country, with France scheduled to host the workshop in 2009.