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The “Introduction to International Humanitarian Law” webinar held

The first webinar in monthly webinars series of the Tehran Peace Museum (TPM) which covered an introduction to international humanitarian law (IHL) was held by the TPM, Communication and International Affairs Center of the Municipality of Tehran, and International Council of Museum Iran (ICOM) on Zoom on July 25th, 2021. In this webinar, Dr. Pouria Askari spoke about IHL and Ms. Mona Badamchizadeh introduced the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum - Geneva.

After welcoming the participants, introducing the program and giving a brief overview of the museum’s virtual tour at the beginning of this webinar by Ms. Elaheh Pooyandeh, the executive manager of TPM; Dr. Askari, faculty member of the School of Law at Allameh Tabataba’i University, gave a brief description of the basic principles of IHL .He first explained that war is a bitter reality that takes shape for various political and strategic reasons, so regulations have been established to control armed conflicts or wars and to protect the rights of civilians or those who are no longer involved in the war (surrendered, captured, or wounded). Explaining the difference between IHL and human rights, he stated that IHL applies in war situations and seeks to limit the various dimensions of wars.

Then, Dr. Askari stated that restricting weapons and warfare methods is acceptable in armed conflicts to minimize damage to civilian areas (cultural, historical, health, educational, etc.), civilians, and their living environment. In this regard, IHL prohibits the use of weapons and strategies that cannot distinguish between military and civilian targets (weapons of mass destruction). There are measures in place to guarantee the implementation of IHL and that war criminals who violate them can be tried in international courts.

Next Dr. Askari spoke about the challenges of implementing IHL and said, unfortunately today, many fighters and the conflict parties do not adhere to the principles of IHL. The situation of the unequal wars between governments and insurgent groups is especially acute. In addition, globally, the jurisdiction of international criminal courts depends on the acceptance of governments. As a result, some hostile states which are reluctant to accept the principles of IHL because it will limit their warfare methods do not fall within the jurisdiction of these courts. Finally, the advancement of technology is another problem in implementing IHL (such as the Four Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols) that makes it impossible for existing laws to be applied in all current situations.

In the third part of the webinar, Ms. Badamchizadeh, the head of education department of TPM introduced the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum - Geneva. She explained that the museum defines its mission in terms of “understanding history, current events and the challenges of humanitarian aid” and its activities focus on three topics: “defending human dignity”, “restoring family ties” and “reducing natural hazards” .Various sections of the museum try to encourage visitors to hear the stories of witnesses (war victims or human rights activists), reflect on the sufferings resulted from wars and natural disasters, and take steps to change the world in a better direction.

In the Last part of the webinar, participants asked their questions from guest speakers. The monthly webinars of TPM examine the various dimensions of peace and explore the scenario of the TPM (promoting a culture of peace by showing the consequences of war and the impacts of the use of chemical weapons). The purpose of these webinars is to acquaint the general audience and the students of different fields with some concepts related to peace and also the connection of these concepts with the TPM.