Karachi : International Humanitarian Law is not of recent origin; rather it is primarily rooted in human history, values and norms, said Prof. Dr. Shaista Tabassum, Chairperson, Department of International Relations at University of Karachi.
Speaking at a seminar on ‘International Humanitarian Law’, organized by the Department of International Relations in collaboration with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Wednesday, she said there is a need for a general realization to assess the significance of International Humanitarian Law. The number of conflicts in the world is such that indifference to IHL is almost impossible.
Prof. Dr. Shahana Urooj Qazmi, former Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Karachi, said that violations of human rights have become almost endemic; conflicts of several types have literally made the lives of people extremely miserable.
She said that the Department of International Relations is one of the most vibrant departments of University of Karachi which regularly organizes national and international level seminars and conferences. These activities, she continued, provide an opportunity to the students to learn and grow intellectually.
Peter Lick, Head of ICRC Sub-Delegation Karachi, said in his opening remarks that ICRC has been making efforts to promote humanity and dignity of human lives. He said that students and common people should know about the significance of the ICRC because we, as human beings, cannot remain indifferent to human sufferings.
Ms. Anastasia Isyuk, Head of Communications, ICRC, spoke on ‘ICRC and Academic Circles’. She highlighted the relation that exists between ICRC and academic environment in the world. She said that there is a quintessential link between ICRC and International Humanitarian Law. Education, she added, happens to be an invaluable means for disseminating information about the importance and activities of ICRC.
Farhan Ahmed Khan, Communications Officer at ICRC Karachi discussed the mandate, activities of ICRC in Pakistan. He threw light upon the historical evolution of ICRC. He said that ICRC was born in the battlefield. He elaborated the mandate of ICRC which has two major components; firstly, protection of human lives in an armed conflict, secondly, ICRC endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles. He further mentioned that ICRC is an independent and impartial organization; it remains neutral while helping and assisting victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters. He said that ICRC is permanently present in 80 countries of the world.
Najmul Saqib, Operational Communication Manager, ICRC, delivered a presentation on ‘International Humanitarian Law’. He said that IHL is something of a legal code that aims at regulating behavior of states during war. It is alternatively called Law of Armed Conflict. It protects those that have not, or are no longer, taking a direct part in hostilities. The civilians, in general, should be protected from warring parties.
Mohammad Salman, Faculty Member at Department of International Relations, presented a paper on ‘Difference between International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law’. He emphasized the fact that both of these are based on common principles of integrity and dignity of individuals, but in terms of scope they differ. He illuminated the fact that IHRL is more theoretical whereas IHL has more of a practical connotation and application. Human Rights debates, he continued, provide necessary intellectual and academic backbone to IHL. But in reality both laws carry shortcomings in terms of proper enforcement.
The program had intermittent question and answer sessions. Students were given certificates of participation at the end of the program.