CCOUC Lunch-Time Seminar – The Right to Protect: How Does International Humanitarian Law Offer Protection to Medical and Humanitarian Professionals During Armed Conflicts?

On 7 February 2018, Prof Sanoj Rajan, the ICCR India Chair Visiting Professor at CUHK Faculty of Law and an expert in the field of International Law and Human Rights, was invited to CCOUC lunch-time seminar to talk about the basic rules of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and its role in human protection during armed conflicts in relation to medical and humanitarian aid.

At the beginning of the seminar, Prof Rajan described IHL, also known as the law of war, as an important international legal instrument to maintain certain standards during armed conflicts. He explained that since its establishment, the development of IHL had been prompted in response to major conflicts by adding more protection protocols for different types of people. An IHL framework highlighted two main pillars of IHL, i.e. protection and regulation. Protection of ‘medical and religious persons’ in IHL means that those who are wounded or those who help the wounded should not be attacked during armed conflicts at any time. Furthermore, there should be certain regulations for conflicts to limit their effects, for example, the regulations for the use of weapons. Despite these laws, so many cases of violation of law have been reported recently, such as attacks on hospitals and ambulances. He explained this violation in relation to the nature of IHL and its limitation: IHL mainly works on conflicts between countries, while majority of recent conflicts were civil/national wars and it is very difficult to apply IHL in these cases.

Overall, Prof Rajan’s seminar was captivating and lucidly highlighted the importance and challenges of IHL during armed conflicts. It was a great learning opportunity for all the participants from a wide range of academic disciplines. CCOUC is looking forward to inviting Prof Rajan again to deliver a lecture in the coming summer course 'Global Health Perspectives of Humanitarian Crisis & Human Security' at CUHK in July 2018.