International Humanitarian Law and Peacekeeping Jointly Organized by USI, ICRC and CUNPK


New Delhi (India), November 20: The United Service Institution of India (USI), the country’s oldest think tank established in 1870, is organizing its Annual UN Forum 2023 (#UAUF 23) on 21-22 November 2023 in New Delhi. The two-day seminar on “International Humanitarian Law and Peacekeeping” is being organized in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Centre for UN Peacekeeping Operations (CUNPK).

With contemporary UN peacekeeping missions increasingly being deployed in volatile environments characterized by asymmetric warfare, ensuring adherence to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) principles has become critical. However, applying IHL norms presents challenges arising from the complexity of modern conflicts, actions by non-state actors and blurred lines between combatants and civilians in urban battlespaces.

Against this background, the seminar aims to discuss the applicability and limitations of implementing IHL frameworks in UN peace operations through an interactive, multi-stakeholder approach. The sessions will enable a deeper examination of some of the contemporary issues like the protection of civilians, accountability for crimes against peacekeepers, the role of women in peacekeeping operations, and leveraging technology for more effective operations.

“Laws of war must be enmeshed into peace operations at all levels, to increase the credibility of UN Missions in various conflict areas,” said Maj Gen BK Sharma, Director General, USI. At the same time technologies can offer better surveillance and analysis to prevent human suffering and protection of civilians, leading to the mandate accomplishment within the ambit of international laws, he added.

Similarly, Mr Kedir Awol Omar, Head of ICRC Regional Delegation in India, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives emphasised that “The primary purpose of International Humanitarian Law is to preserve humanity in the face of death, destruction and devastation occasioned by armed conflict”. 

The seminar will involve insightful perspectives presented by both academicians and practitioners who have first-hand experience of peacekeeping challenges. Keynote addresses will be delivered by senior officials from the Indian armed forces and the Ministry of External Affairs.

The seminar will be held over two days as under: 

-Session 1 will discuss application of IHL principles to peacekeeping given situations involving non-state actors and urban warfare.

-Session 2 will analyze constraints to protection of civilian mandates and overcoming them by integrating IHL norms.

-Session 3 will examine legal frameworks to ensure accountability when peacekeepers are targeted and measures to enhance their protection.

-Session 4 will focus on the importance of gender-inclusive peacekeeping and challenges for women peacekeepers.

-Session 5 will discuss utilising technology for more effective peacekeeping through data analytics, AI and advanced surveillance.

With India being one of the largest troop contributors to UN peacekeeping, the USI-ICRC seminar provides a good platform to discuss strategies required for Indian peacekeepers to meet contemporary challenges while upholding IHL principles. In this connection, Amb Asoke Mukerji, Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations said, “India’s proactive support for the 1948 UN Genocide Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, combined with its unique experience as the UN’s largest troop contributor make it an ideal host for the landmark USI Annual UN Forum 2023.”

The seminar will conclude with a plenary session aimed at consolidating takeaways for peacekeeping practitioners and providing recommendations to further informed discourse on IHL and its integration into UN peace operations.

The dialogues during the seminar can contribute to developing training modules and policy frameworks to make peacekeeping more effective while ensuring the rights and safety of peacekeepers and civilians.

The Kootneeti, a New Delhi-based digital media platform, is the official media partner for the event and will provide live coverage of the seminar proceedings. The coverage will include live tweets, detailed articles, speaker interviews and photographs shared across The Kootneeti’s website and social media channels.

For more details, contact: 

Maj Gen PK Goswami, VSM (Retd)

Deputy Director General

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