Source: Ministry of Defence South Africa
PHOTOS: Sergeant Elias Mahuma, SA Soldier Magazine
Delegates from almost 59 countries across the globe attending the 5th Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations (SWIRMO) presented by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) held at the Military Academy from 27 June until 02 July 2011.
The Fifth Senior Workshop on International Rules Governing Military Operations (SWIRMO), the high profile seminar on the law of war to be hosted in for the first time in Africa, is currently underway at the Military Academy, Saldahna at the West Coast.
The objective of the workshop, which is presented by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and hosted by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), runs from 27 June until 02 July 2011 is to enhance understanding of the most pressing international legal issues faced in modern military operations.
Delivering his opening remarks of the 5th SWIRMO 2011welcoming address to the delegates, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi, Chief Human Resources and the Acting Chief Joint Operations, said that the SANDF by providing troops with the best military training in order to achieve a high level of excellence during the peace-support operations on the continent.
“Globally, armed conflicts both international and non-international in nature, confront the world daily with cruelty, suffering, death and destruction it brings with it, especially for those not in the business of war fighting. It (armed conflict) usually claim lives close to 100 million people in the 20th century. To limit disproportionate destruction in times of Armed Conflict, whilst still allowing fully, for the application of military force, we as commanders and planners and executors of military operations need to know and understand the constrains imposed by the Lawn of Armed Conflict (LOAC) and then rigorously implement and adhere to those stipulations.” Lieutenant General Mgwebi said.
Lieutenant Geneneral Mgwebi urged the commanders to impart an appropriate guidance such as the Rules of Engagement, naturally based on the prescripts of law to subordinates to cover specific circumstances as such guidance will ensure consistent action behavior and prepare subordinate commanders in command of independent missions to take necessary measures required by the situation in accordance with Article 87 of Protocol One to the Four Geneva Conference.
He further said that the Article 87 of Protocol One to the Four Geneva Conventions places upon commanders the responsibility to ensure members under their command are aware of their obligations under the LOAC in order to prevent the breaches of the Law and where necessary, to suppress and serve as a punitive measure. The Article in essence places the commanders personally accountable and liable for the conduct of their subordinates.
During her acceptance speech, Mrs Christine Beerli, ICRC Vice President the decision to bring the acclaimed event was motivated by a desire to empower armed forces with tools to enable them to aimed at the respect for international law and limiting the suffering of people affected by armed conflict or internal violence.
“Accordingly, it is very fitting that the 5th ICRC SWIRMO should be held in South Africa given their human rights history and extremely grateful to the co-hosts, the SANDF for playing such a key partnership in role making this workshop a reality. It is the nature of the teaching that makes the event distinctive. Through a combination of lectures, group exercises and discussions, it will address the most pressing international legal issues of the day, including the deprivation of liberty by armed forces, targeting and the conduct of hostilities and the use of force by militaries in law enforcement operations.
Mrs Beerli said she hoped that the outcome of the occasion will help to the delegates in order to translate humanitarian and human rights law and its practice in the field of operations. The delegation will receive tutorials in French, Spanish as well as English as mediums of instruction. for their classes.