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RCAF, Red Cross focus on IHL

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Attendees at a joint ICRC/RCAF ‘Military in Security Operations’ workshop at the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Voun Dara

RCAF, Red Cross focus on IHL

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is collaborating with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) to jointly host a regional Military in Security Operations workshop in Phnom Penh. The three-day event will run from Tuesday to Thursday.

The workshop is attended by key military and law-enforcement officials from some 20 countries from the Asia-Pacific region and will explore the differences between armed conflict and law enforcement operations.

It will also examine the norms and standards guiding the application of such standards.

General Ith Sarath, the RCAF deputy commander-in-chief and chief of joint staff, said at the workshop’s opening on Tuesday: “It is an honour for Cambodia to host this type of workshop and work with the International Committee of the Red Cross, and with delegates from so many attending countries."

“The workshop will not only provide experience and valuable information, but also explore international law on armed conflicts, intentional cooperation on humanitarian work, and guidance for the military regarding the implementation of the International Humanitarian Law [IHL] – also known as the law of armed conflict."

General Ith Sarath added that the workshop will be a platform to share experiences regarding the implementation of these laws, legal principles and additional topics.

“The ICRC will offer presentations to those participating. We will listen to the experiences of other countries, while Cambodia will share its experiences with them.”

Sarath said Cambodia had been consumed by war for decades. Countless people died and suffered, while infrastructure and the economy were badly damaged.

War could break out at any time and anywhere. Senior officers must adhere to the law of armed conflict by understanding the difference between military and civilian targets as battles, he said, could be fought in civilian areas.

“This requires strategies from commanders to fight the enemy and still adhere to the laws of war. Military commanders must maintain legal principles."

“In every operation, military commanders must incorporate the principles of the law of armed conflict and instruct their subordinates to correctly attack legitimate targets and avoid other zones as determined by the law,” General Sarath said.

Roman Paramonov, the head of the ICRC’s mission in Cambodia, said: “The ICRC is the guardian and promoter of the application of the IHL. So it is important that all groups are made aware of its application.

“In this respect, all efforts must be made so that humanitarian principles prevail during the planning and execution of operations by armed and security forces.”

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