Protection of Civilians During Wars and Conflicts by Bushra Tahir

November 2019 International Humanitarian Law Conference: GLOBAL MOVEMENT OF ARMS Webinar (University of Saskatchewan)

Catherine Gribbin is working as a Legal Advisor at the Canadian Red Cross started with a notion of what type of forces should be used to keep the legality of conflicts in compliance to International Humanitarian Law in today’s armed conflict. Gribbin suggested that International Humanitarian Law rules to reduce the impact of conflict on civilian population. Further, Gribbin said that war is a reality, whosoever is impacted by any armed conflict needs protection. She added that International Humanitarian Law prohibits the use of torture and inhumane language during armed conflicts. She said that it is also important to lay out the facts before even complying with International Humanitarian Law. Such as: How long is the conflict? What type of weapons are used? And What causalities look like? Gribbin highlighted that in the presence of the law, we need to know that how that, protection of civilian population in armed conflicts has been eroded. For protecting the innocent population operational strategies can be revised by task forces from United Nations to protect civilians. Forces may even roll back or cancel military attack to reverse any severe impacts on civilians.

Allison Pytlak is working for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom had discussed a gender based approach to arms control, including a look at the relationship between weapons and sexual and gender-based violence. Pytlak followed a basic feminist narrative that Gender Base Violence is an act of discrimination in any armed conflict. Pytlak said that most policy workers are still working to understand the issues, thus keeping Gender Base Violence & Violence Against Women separate. Howsoever, both can happen in time of peace or war and unfortunately it is severely under-reported. She added that in the modern warfare, it might be interesting to see that drones and nuclear weapons have made a profound impact on maternal health. Women are facing an indirect effect on gender roles during armed conflicts. Women have to socially reconstruct the affected society. Pytlak emphasized that women will be impacted in many ways due to the use of the ‘autonomous weapons’ and it’s hard to grasp so many invisible effects. She also recognized some of the efforts made by Arms Trade Treaty that Gender Base Violence is under a risk assessment. She further stated that the United Nations Resolution 1325 has clearly emphasized to prosecute criminals under ‘war crimes’. This gives ability to address issues such as torture and rape as seen in armed conflicts. Pytlak concluded that it is important to give priority to Gender Base Violence as a part of risk assessment in conflicts by involving women in developing policy and program.