Seminar Summary

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in partnership with Islamic Outreach-ABIM, organized a seminar entitled, ‘Protection and Assistance of Civilians Affected by Complex Emergencies and Armed Conflicts.’ It was held at the Equatorial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on October 14, 2009.

This seminar aimed at providing a platform for discussing the advancement of the many key issues involving the challenges and strategies of humanitarian agencies in providing protection and assistance to vulnerable groups. The rationale of organizing this seminar was because armed conflict has persisted as a frighteningly common feature of the international system well into the twenty-first century, and has engendered more than its fair share of tragic consequences. Ranging from the growing number of casualties among innocent civilians to issues arising from the displacement of populations fleeing conflict zones, its complexities underscores the necessity for increasing humanitarian dialogue and coordination between important stakeholders, including governments, intergovernmental and regional organizations and training institutions, among others. The acknowledgment of commonly held values and themes such as the amelioration of the suffering sustained by innocent civilians through relief serves as the underlying basis for such interaction.

There are organizations that have achieved much by working alone, but such cases are rare. Situations calling for humanitarian relief action tend to present complex realities that an organization is hard-pressed to handle alone, and where inter-agency coordination can be better suited to meet the challenges. From the outset of its establishment in 1863, the ICRC has recognized the fact that humanitarian organizations cannot operate in vacuum when assisting the victims of armed conflict. These organizations may find that the interest of those most vulnerable in such situations could be better served through efforts done in cooperation and collaboration.

The seminar was divided into two sessions, the first covering the theme of addressing basic needs in situations of complex emergencies and armed conflict, and the second session explored humanitarian action in complex emergencies from two legal perspectives. Speakers included Dr. Ameur Zemmali, Legal Advisor of the International Committee of the Red Cross for the Middle East and North Africa, Assistant Professor Mohd. Hisham Mohd Kamal from the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyah of Laws, International Islamic University of Malaysia, Datuk Che Moin Umar from the National Security Council and Dr. Mohd. Daud Sulaiman from, Secretary General from the Malaysian Relief Agency.

Approximately 90 participants and resource persons attended this seminar. They included journalists, humanitarian workers, Islamic Institutions, academicians, military and representatives from non-governmental organizations.

A brief report of this seminar had been made by Muna Djuly, ICRC Assistant Protection Officer and Shaheen Lim, ICRC intern.

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