After the last session with UNCTAD, we went to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Luckily the headquarters of the ICRC was just across the street from Palais des Nations, so within 10 minutes we were able to start with our final visit of the trip.
The ICRC’s main goal is ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war and other situations of violence. To do so, it is, among others, promoting respect for international humanitarian law. After a brief introduction and a short tour, we started with a lecture in the basics of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). IHL is the branch of international law specifically intended to preserve humanitarian values during armed conflicts by
The main sources of law can be found in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols. IHL does not say when a State can go to war or whether a war is legit: it only deals with the legalities during warfare.
In the Geneva conventions, a clear distinction is made between International Armed Conflicts (IAC) and Non-International Armed Conflicts (NIAC). International armed conflicts are armed conflicts between two or more States, while a NIAC is between a State and an armed group. It not always easy to determine whether a conflict is international or not, because involvement of other States does not automatically change the status of the conflict. This distinction is important due to the applicability of the Geneva Conventions. Only the Additional Protocol II deals with non-international armed conflicts. Although a lot of countries has ratified this protocol, the United States, Turkey, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, and Iraq are notable exceptions. Due to the fact non-international armed conflicts can be seen a national matter, and thus intervene with the sovereignty of a State, this protocol is more controversial. However, a lot of the rules laid down in the Conventions are also part of customary lawand therefore also applicable for States who haven’t ratified it.
There are a few basic principles in IHL:
During the lecture a lot of interesting (fictional) examples were used to give us an idea how to apply IHL. Luckily there was a lot of room for questions, which could be answered by the lawyers of the ICRC. Afterwards we took a nice group picture at the entrance of the building.
After the WHO, we went back to the UN to have a meeting about the UNCTAD Youth Forum. UNCTAD introduced a special way to include young people in their negotiations, namely by having a Youth Forum. The first Youth Forum took place during UNCTAD 14 in 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. The next Youth Forum will be in October 2018 in Geneva.
In groups, we discussed which topics should be discussed at the Youth Forum. Examples that we came up with are: mental health, cybersecurity, trade dependency, youth entrepreneurship and youth leadership. Hopefully some of us will join the Youth Forum in October! We discussed our outcomes with Vice-President of the Alibaba Group Brian A. Wong. He told us about his life story, how he works with Jack Ma and why young people are so important. He and the UNCTAD team will look at our best practices and ideas and will hopefully implement them at the Youth Forum coming October.
We started our second day with visiting the WHO in Geneva. We got the special opportunity to have our lecture in the so called Shock Room. We learned a lot about the different angles of WHO’s work. For example, how WHO eradicated smallpox and almost eradicated polio. On the other side, it makes policy and tries to provide education for all countries to prevent diseases from spreading. WHO focusses a lot on prevention rather than only on curing diseases. The office in Geneva works closely together with regional office countries around the world. All the participants really enjoyed the lecture since it shed a new light on diplomacy and foreign relations. Namely, in the offices of WHO all sort of people work, from lawyers to doctors and from diplomats to secretaries. This causes that many of our group members could do an internship or apply for a traineeship at WHO.
After looking around in the United Nations building, we went to visit the Dutch permanent Mission to the United Nations. They explained that the mission is responsible for representing the interest of the Netherlands. Therefore, they need to keep in contact with a range of International Organizations in Geneva, dealing with human rights, disarmament, trade and economics, health and humanitarian issues. The mission is split into two sides. One part of deals with humanitarian and human rights issues. The other diplomats are expert in the field of economic relations and keeps good contact with UNCTAD, WTO, World Economic Forum and many other organizations. Both are essential for representing the Netherlands abroad.
We ended our day with a nice cocktail reception at the UN building discussing our trip with diplomats and UNCTAD staff.
On the 16thand 17thof April, SIB Amsterdam I Dutch United Nations Student Association visited the United Nations in Geneva. We primarily visited the UNCTAD eCommerce conference. UNCTAD stands for: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. They merely deal with creating more trade opportunities and intensifying development around the world. UNCTAD is keen on including youth in their policy discussions and therefore was happy to host us for the tow days.
On the first day, we got the opportunity to meet the Secretary General of UNCTAD Dr. Kituyi. A former Kenyan minister. He believes young people should be able to be involved in the entrepreneurship and telling UNCTAD which direction it should take. Later that day, we as a group visited a real high-level dialogue where ministers would discuss the role of sustainable development in eCommerce. One of our participants, Rick prepared a question for the ministers. Unfortunately, the panel discussion did not finish in time which caused that Rick could not ask his question.