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June 11, 2023, 11:17:49 am

Author Topic: 2019 AA Club -Week 16  (Read 2858 times)

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2019 AA Club -Week 16
« on: August 12, 2019, 02:17:28 pm »
Even wars have laws, and they've been saving lives for 70 years today

Its no easy thing, to recognise the humanity in your enemy. We can only imagine that Australian diggers from the battlefields of World War II to modern conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have felt this challenge.

But recognising our common humanity is what the Geneva Conventions ask of us and this year they turn 70. This isnt so much about anniversaries. Its about 70 years of protecting people.

The Geneva Conventions are the bedrock of international humanitarian law or the law of war. Protecting civilians and combatants alike, they were born from the horrors of WWII.

Among the few international treaties to be universally ratified, these are the laws that place limits on conflict. They protect people who are in the fight limiting the use of weapons that cause superfluous harm and prohibiting torture.

And they protect people who are out of the fight prohibiting the targeting of civilians, healthcare and aid workers. They require safe passage for civilians to flee, and access for humanitarian groups to help.

As an organisation that helps people caught in armed conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross, along with the many local Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies operating in conflict-affected countries, witnesses these rules of war save lives every day.

When a wounded person is allowed through a checkpoint, when a detainee can send a message to family, when a hungry child receives food that is what the Geneva Conventions look like in action.

In 2016, the ICRC surveyed almost 20,000 people in more than 16 countries, including Australia, to hear their thoughts on war. The results were clear, reflecting what the Australian Red Cross has been hearing from its decades of work promoting these laws nationwide.

Eight in every 10 people surveyed thought civilians should not be targets. The same number thought attacking hospitals, ambulances and healthcare workers was wrong. But although these results are encouraging, the Geneva Conventions are not always universally respected, despite being universally ratified. We can always do better by them.

For just as we see success stories, today we also see egregious violations of the laws of war in countries such as Syria, Yemen and South Sudan. When stories of children or families or aid workers being targeted in conflict flood our news feeds it is important to remember the countless lives the Geneva Conventions have saved.

We would be worse off without them. Thats why everyone needs to play a part in making sure they are respected.

Even as the very nature of warfare changes, we need to remember that the Geneva Conventions remain fit for purpose. Modern wars are longer, and more likely to be fought in cities between more armed groups with deadlier weapons, thanks to rapidly evolving technology.

Regardless of whether these are traditional or autonomous, robotic weapons and whether they
are used in the cybersphere or in outer space the Geneva Conventions are just as relevant to them now as when they were agreed upon by the worlds nations on August 12, 1949.

So as the Geneva Conventions turn 70, we must make sure we stand by them, respond when they are not respected and remind ourselves that they have human dignity at heart.

For just as we share this common humanity, we share this common responsibility.

By: Yvette Zegenhagen is the national manager of international humanitarian law at Australian Red Cross. Leonard Blazeby is the International Committee of the Red Cross head of mission in Australia.

2017 : Further Maths [38]
2018 : English [45] ;English Language [43] ; Food Studies [47] ;French [33] ;Legal Studies [39]
VCE ATAR : 98.10
2019 - 2023 : Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts at Monash University

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