College of Law

Humanitarian law knowledge boosted by Unisa, Red Cross course

On 22 January 2019, representatives from across Africa descended on Unisa to attend the 16th All Africa Course on International Humanitarian Law, presented by the university in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Presented over two weeks, the course served as a comprehensive introduction to the law of armed conflict and contemporary issues in international human law (IHL).

Prof Vinesh Basdeo, Executive Dean of Unisa’s College of Law

In his welcome address, Prof Vinesh Basdeo, Executive Dean of Unisa’s College of Law, said that international humanitarian law is inextricably linked to these goals of the African Union’s Agenda 2016 Action plan, which emphasises continental partnerships and projects to ensure the attainment of the goals of establishing an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law, and a peaceful and secure Africa. "This is especially relevant since the failure to implement and enforce international humanitarian law would defeat the essential principles of humanity," said Basdeo. "Indeed, the increase in serious violations of international humanitarian law in armed conflicts in Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan, among others, is spreading impunity, suffering and instability, and undoubtedly defying humanity’s most fundamental norms.’

Basdeo said that against this backdrop, Unisa is proud to collaborate with the International Committee of the Red Cross in presenting the 16th edition of the course. "In addition," he said, "to imparting advanced knowledge on the classification of armed conflict, the methods of warfare, the suppression of grave breaches of the law and an analysis of future conflict trends, we are particularly pleased to be able to provide a platform for intellectual and practical engagement on the mechanisms that can be invoked for purposes of cultivating respect for the law and thus ensuring compliance with it. In the face of states retreating from their obligations to adhere to their legal commitments, this gathering of stakeholders who are in a position to influence policy and decision-making in their own states holds the real potential to breathe new life into humanitarian law so that we may embark on an 'era of application' of the law, to achieve positive and long-lasting social change, justice and accountability."

Course attendees and representatives of Unisa and the International Committee of the Red Cross

Publish date: 2019/01/31