Given the current conflict dynamics taking place in our region and the everlasting necessity of IHL and adherence to humanitarian principles by humanitarian organisations, the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies (CHS), the Embassy of Switzerland in Qatar and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organised a symposium on Contemporary Dilemmas in International Humanitarian Law: Exploring Global Issues in the Arab and Islamic World on Wednesday 15 September at 1800 Doha Time.

The event was introduced by Professor Sultan Barakat and H.E. Edgar Dörig, Ambassador of Switzerland to Qatar. It brought together prominent experts of International Humanitarian Law: H.E. Peter Maurer, President, ICRC, as the keynote speaker, Dr. Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy, ICRC, Ms. Fatima Gailani, Afghan Government Negotiator, former President of the Afghan Red Crescent Society and Islamic Scholar, Dr. Fawzi Oussedik, Head of International Relations and International Law, Qatar Red Crescent and Dr. Omar Mekky, Regional Legal Coordinator for Middle East and North Africa, ICRC, as panelists. Many insights and analyses were reached by Professor Sultan in his moderation of the panel discussion.

The topics of discussion included the challenges of IHL in the MENA region, women under IHL, Islam under IHL, the arming of children and their protection under IHL, and the contemporary challenges of IHL.

In a pre-recorded video message, the President of the ICRC, His Excellency Peter Maurer delivered important messages. One being the recent snowballing developments in Afghanistan, revealing not only how quickly dynamics can change but how unexpected developments and ill-preparedness can plunge a country into crises. The work that the ICRC is carrying out in Afghanistan was further touched upon, shedding light on how they are working to mitigate further suffering under the umbrella of IHL and its principles.

His Excellency justly underlined the complexity of contexts in the Arab world in which humanitarian actors have to operate under and IHL has to be upheld and implemented in, from urban warfare, protracted conflicts, terrorism and counterterrorism measures, the rise of non-state armed groups, impacts of climate change to adapting to health-related pandemics.