Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law

Diwaka Prakash, Assistant Director, International Legal Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Diwaka.prakash@dfat.gov.au
AIRCDRE Chris Hanna, Director General, ADF Legal Services, Department of Defence chris.hanna@defence.gov.au


The Australian Government and Australian Red Cross (ARC) work together (and independently), and with a range of stakeholders, to comprehensively deliver international humanitarian law (IHL) dissemination to a broad spectrum of the Australian population. All points in the pledge action plan have been met, with more activities planned to implement the pledge in the following years.

  • In broad terms, financial support from the Attorney General’s Department (AGD) in 2015/16 enabled the ARC IHL program to deliver 270 training courses, presentations and events which directly reached 7571 Australians across target stakeholder groups (medical, humanitarians, academic, private, government and Australian Defence Force). It also facilitated the launch of the ‘Culture Under Attack’ photography exhibition on protections of Cultural Property in armed conflict at the High Court of Australia. AGD has committed to continue to support the ARC’s IHL dissemination work through the Grants to Australian Organisations Program until July 2019;
  • With financial support from Department Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), ARC supported Pacific National Societies to translate Fundamental Principles posters for Tonga and Solomon Islands Red Cross. The Tetum translation for the Timor-Leste Red Cross IHL handbook for Parliamentarians is complete, and the Portuguese translation is almost finalised. In addition ARC is able to provide ongoing peer-to-peer support for dissemination and communications officers (DCO) from Pacific National Societies, including providing IHL training for the new DCO from Tuvalu Red Cross in November;
  • The Department of Defence continues to integrate IHL training into its career progression courses for officers and enlisted personnel. The Department provides IHL training to regional military forces through the Asia Pacific Centre of Military Law.

More specifically:

  • The Army School of Logistic Operations has embedded ARC IHL training within the formal curriculum for all health personnel;
  • Strengthened relationships across the Department of Defence has enabled ARC to support the JEX3 military exercise at the Australian Command and Staff College in Canberra, and deliver IHL training to Australian Defence Force personnel across five states and territories;
  • ARC will participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre in July 2017 (a major combined United States and Australian bilateral exercise);
  • ARC is working with DFAT to produce an IHL Handbook for Diplomats as part of DFAT’s Diplomatic Academy. There will be further opportunities for ARC collaboration with DFAT on IHL training within the recently launched Legal Faculty of the Diplomatic Academy.
  • With support from the Attorney General’s Department, a revised IHL Handbook for Parliamentarians was launched at a co-hosted event with the Attorney General in Canberra in September 2016;
  • The Australian Defence Force has provided IHL training to Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) as part of it mission to reinforce ISF capabilities to conduct activities against Daesh.
  • Defence is conducting a review of its IHL training continuum for Australian Defence Force members.


The Australian Civil-Military Centre was established to improve Australia’s effectiveness in civil-military-police collaboration for conflict and disaster management overseas and support best practice approaches to civil-military-police engagement by those involved in the strategic planning and delivery of conflict and disaster management activities. It provides a range of learning and development activities, including on IHL, in collaboration with Australian government agencies, non-government organisations, the commercial sector, international agencies and the higher education sector.


ARC contributes to this pledge by:

  • Co-Chairing the Asia Pacific Legal Network;
  • Actively participating in the Health Care in Danger Movement Reference Group;
  • Ensuring that a requirement for all humanitarian organisations with operations overseas to be trained in IHL is included in the Australian Council For International Development Code of Conduct;
  • Membership of the newly formed Open-ended reference group of the International Red Cross And Red Crescent Movement related to the intergovernmental process on strengthening respect for IHL.