Promotion and dissemination of international humanitarian law
Name: Ms. Ana Pereira
Position: Legal counsellor at the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal
Portugal ensures military forces and security forces are aware of their rights and obligations under International Humanitarian Law, by providing them with training throughout their careers and prior to deployment to international missions and operations. Higher ranking officers (superior and general) in the Portuguese Armed Forces are required to attend classes and seminars in International Humanitarian Law during special courses prior to promotion. The Portuguese Red Cross plays a crucial auxiliary part, by organising and giving lectures to armed forces, security forces and healthcare personnel, in the framework of several protocols signed with Portuguese governmental departments.
Portugal has made International Humanitarian Law a true political priority in its Major Planning Options for 2017: the Options expressly mention Portugal’s compliance with International Humanitarian Law as a means to affirm its commitment as a prestigious advocate for the rule of law, the peaceful settlement of disputes and human rights.
One of the most recent major initiatives for the dissemination of International Humanitarian Law in Portugal was the public conference “Humanitarian Assistance and the Protection of Civilians in Situations of Armed Conflict– Current challenges”, jointly organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Portuguese Red Cross and held on 7 April 2017. Members of the armed forces, security forces and public administration were especially invited to attend. The speakers’ interventions will be included in the 2017 edition of the Portuguese Yearbook of International Law.
Furthermore, Portugal is currently working, in coordination with the Portuguese Red Cross and following the International Committee’s guiding principles, to establish a national committee on International Humanitarian Law before the end of 2017.