Officers from over 20 countries meet to discuss protection of civilians in Partnered Military Operations

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The Ministry of Defence in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Monday hosted a workshop focusing on Partnered Military Operations (PMO) with around 30 senior military officers from over 20 countries.

The three-day workshop aims to serve as a platform to exchange knowledge between military practitioners, humanitarians and academic experts on measures to enhance the protection of civilians and civilian objects; in addition to restraining means of fighting in military operations during armed conflicts.

The PMO workshop comes three years after the ICRC and the Ministry of Defence held the Senior Workshop for International Rules in Military Operations (SWIRMO) in 2018 for the first time in the region.

The workshop will tackle the application of International Humanitarian Law in military operations, while also providing information on the ICRC’s mission, its significance and role in international conflicts to senior military officers.

The Ministry of Defence indicated that the PMO workshop provides participants with the necessary tools and skills to identify lessons learned in addition to the opportunities and the challenges of promoting the partnered operationalisation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Brigadier Salem Jumaa Al Kaabi, Head of the Executive Department of Military Judiciary at the Ministry of Defence, said, “The UAE’s humanitarian approach was founded by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose path was completed by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has set up valuable frameworks from which humanitarian ideas have sprung, and which are based on the principles of protecting civilians, protecting the weak, providing relief to the afflicted, and assisting everyone in need without discrimination of religion, race, gender, colour or political affiliation in armed conflicts.”

Al Kaabi added that the UAE holds special importance to International Humanitarian Law, which is one of the branches of public international law. The country is one of the first countries that formed a national committee in 2004 to support IHL and hosts the Regional Centre for the Arab States to train Arab diplomats on the subject. It is also among the countries that recognised the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, as well as one of the few countries that adopted the International Criminal Law, which is following the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998.

“The UAE was keen to join most of the international conventions that regulate issues of international humanitarian law, and all of this comes within the framework of the state’s support for the definition and dissemination of International Humanitarian Law. The UAE remains keen to strengthen its relationship with the ICRC through its mission in the UAE,” he continued.

“We appreciate the great role played by the ICRC, which has taken upon itself the task of spreading and implementing the provisions of international humanitarian law,” Al Kaabi said.

In turn, Clare Dalton, the ICRC’s Head of Mission in the UAE, stated, “The workshop offers a unique platform in which we seek to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. We are honoured that the UAE Ministry of Defence is co-hosting this important event which is in line with our strategic relationship with the UAE and our shared ambition for global dialogue on key humanitarian issues and IHL themes.”

The ICRC has launched a global initiative on Support Relationships in Armed Conflict (SRI) to work with militaries and other stakeholders to identify practical measures to strengthen the protection of civilians. The ICRC works with a range of actors globally to understand policies, practices and operational challenges relevant to support relationships, as it believes armed actors can and should leverage their influence over each other to promote respect for IHL.

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