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The 2015 edition of the Bruges Colloquium on IHL will deal with “Urban Warfare” and take place on 15-16 October 2015

October 4, 2015

The 16th edition of the Bruges Colloquium on International Humanitarian Law will take place on 15-16 October 2015 and will deal with “Urban Warfare”. The ICRC and the College of Europe have, as they do every year, put together a very interesting programme. An excellent reason to visit Bruges, where you combine attending a high-level discussion on IHL with enjoying some Belgian delights (such as chocolates, moules et frites and beer)!

The proceedings of previous years can be accessed (for free) online. Last year dealt with the detention in armed conflict. Other previous topics relevant for the readers of this blog include: Scope of application of IHL, Relevance of IHL to Non-State Actors, Improving compliance with IHL, and Armed Conflicts and Parties to Armed Conflicts under IHL: Confronting Legal Categories to Contemporary Realities.

 

The Colloquium’s sessions will address:

1) The identification of military targets in cities

2) Protecting civilians living in cities against the effect of hostilities

3) The prohibition of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks

4) Two panel discussions: one on the legality of siege warfare and one on how to reduce human cost of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

 

Speakers include academics such as Marco Sassoli, Francoise Hampson, Sean Watts, Agnieszka Jachec-Neale and Nobuo Hayashi, as well as practitioners of the ICRC, NATO, NGOs and national armed forces (such as Lauren Gisel, Stephen Hill, Clive Baldwin, and Guy Keinan, respectively).

 

Practical information is available here. The (provisional) programme is as follows:

DAY 1: THURSDAY, 15TH OCTOBER

Welcome address by Prof. Michele Chang, College of Europe
Welcome address by Mr. Walter Füllemann, Head of Delegation, ICRC Brussels
Keynote address by Prof. Yves Sandoz, Honorary Member of the Committee, ICRC
“The development of the rules on the conduct of hostilities over the twentieth century, a historical perspective”

 

SESSION ONE: IDENTIFYING MILITARY OBJECTIVES IN CITIES

Chairperson: Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza, University of Warsaw
10:30 – 10:50 How can my home, school or church ever be a military objective? Loss of protection by use, purpose or location
Speaker: Agnieszka Jachec-Neale, Chatham House

10:50 – 11:10 Can a civilian object that has lost its protection against direct attack be destroyed for imperative military reasons?

Speaker: Nobuo Hayashi, International Law and Policy Institute
11:10 – 11:30 The obligation to take all feasible precautions to verify that a target is a military objective when using indirect fire in urban areas

Speaker to be confirmed
11:30 – 12:15 Discussion

 

SESSION TWO: PRECAUTIONS WHEN CARRYING OUT ATTACKS IN CITIES

Chairperson: Andres Muñoz, SHAPE Legal Office, NATO
14:00 – 14:20 All feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods Speaker to be confirmed

14:20 – 14:40 Effective advance warning

Speaker: Clive Baldwin, Human Rights Watch

14:40 – 15:10 Discussion

 

SESSION THREE: PROTECTING CIVILIANS LIVING IN CITIES AGAINST THE EFFECTS OF HOSTILITIES

Chairperson: Col. Chris de Cock, Ministry of Defence, Belgium
15:30 – 15:50 Moving the cities’ inhabitants away from the fighting, and moving the fighting from the inhabitants

Speaker: Col. Nathalie Durhin, Ministry of Defence, France

15:50 – 16:10 The obligation to take feasible passive precautions and the prohibition of the use of human shields: can military considerations, including force protection, justify not to respect them?

Speaker: Marco Sassoli, University of Geneva

16:10 – 16:40 Discussion

 

PANEL DISCUSSION

16:40 – 18:00 Can siege warfare still be legal?

Moderator: Steven Hill, Office of Legal Affairs, NATO

Panellists:

– Françoise Hampson, University of Essex

– Sean Watts, Creighton University

 

DAY 2: FRIDAY, 16TH OCTOBER

SESSION FOUR: THE PROHIBITION ON INDISCRIMINATE AND DISPROPORTIONATE ATTACKS

Chairperson: Paul Berman, Legal Service of the Council of the European Union

9:00 – 9:20 Defining and assessing the military advantage in urban warfare

Speaker: Cpt. Guy Keinan, Military Advocate General’s Corps, Israel Defence Forces

9:20 – 9:40 Relevant incidental harm for the proportionality principle

Speaker: Laurent Gisel, ICRC Legal Division

9:40 – 10:00 Shelling in urban area, when does imprecision become indiscriminate?

Speaker: Eric Jensen, Brigham Young University

10:00 – 10:45 Discussion

 

 

PANEL DISCUSSION

11:00 – 12:30 How to work towards reducing the human cost of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas?

Moderator: Françoise Hampson, University of Essex

Panellists:

– Maya Brehm, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

– Lt. Col. Harry Konings, Retired army officer and former UN military observer

– Thomas de Saint Maurice, ICRC Legal Division

– Mark Zeitoun, University of East Anglia

 

12:30 – 13:00 Concluding remarks and closure by Prof. Yves Sandoz, Honorary Member of the Committee, ICRC

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