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The competition

The Frits Kalshoven International Humanitarian Law Competition is an annual event, jointly organized by The Netherlands Red Cross and Belgian Red Cross-Flanders. The competition aims to provide students with an opportunity to practically engage with international humanitarian law (IHL) and deepen their knowledge thereof by attending expert lectures, engaging in real-life armed conflict simulations or roleplays, expand their professional network and ultimately, by competing against other teams during the Moot Court, in which they will plead a fictional case related to IHL.

The 16th edition will take place from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 March 2023 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Public sessions

Lecture 1 – Qualification of Conflicts
3 November 2022 at 16h30, in The Hague and online

In order for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to apply to a situation of violence, that situation must constitute an armed conflict. As different sets of rules apply to different types of armed conflict, it is also important to identify the nature of the conflict. IHL distinguishes two types of armed conflict: international and non-international armed conflicts. When we talk about qualification of conflict we try to identify what type of conflict is involved. There are different scopes important for the qualification of conflict such as the material, personal, temporal and territorial scope. The material scope looks at the actual use of force of the parties of the conflict. The personal scope determines to which actors IHL applies. The active personal scope extends to all the parties of a conflict and the persons that belong to parties of the conflict. The passive personal scope extends to persons who are protected under IHL, like civilians. The temporal scope addresses the question when the conflict starts and ends and when IHL enters into force. The territorial scope determines where IHL applies. In determining the territorial scope, the factual situation is decisive. This lecture will further elaborate these four scopes. It will define the different types of conflict and it will explain the key distinctions between the different types of conflict. The sets of rules that apply to the different types of conflicts will also be discussed.

Lecture 2 – Rules of Means and Methods of Warfare
15 December 2022 at 19h, online

International humanitarian law (IHL) contains provisions on the means and methods of warfare. In any armed conflict there are limits to which means and methods may be used by the belligerent parties. It is prohibited at all times to use weapons, projectiles, substances or methods that cause unnecessary suffering. Furthermore, the use of all means and methods of warfare must (be able to) comply with the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions. In this lecture, we will examine the relevant rules and principles, by analysing the main legal instruments in this regard and supported by using practical examples. Furthermore, the lecturer will elaborate on how these instruments are put into practice during the planning and execution phases of contemporary military operations.

Lecture 3 – Missing Persons
16 February 2023 at 19h, online

Every year thousands of people go missing, many as a result of armed conflicts. The circumstances in which people go missing vary: families are separated because of hostilities, or they lose sight of each other when they flee their homes. Members of state armed forces and non-state armed groups can be detained. If human remains are inappropriately handled, this can in turn create issues for their identification. The uncertainty of not knowing what has happened to their relatives can generate significant consequences for the families on the psychological level but also in terms of the administrative, legal and economic difficulties they might also face. International law, and in particular international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), contains relevant obligations for states to avoid, insofar as possible, such consequences for missing persons and their families. This lecture will focus on the international legal framework regarding missing persons, with a focus on IHL and IHRL. It will examine which obligations parties to a conflict have to avoid that people go missing and which measures can be taken on the domestic level. The activities of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement regarding the missing will equally be highlighted.

Moot court finals
10 March at 17h, The Hague and online

About prof. dr. Frits Kalshoven

The Frits Kalshoven Competition is named after one of the world’s most renowned ex-perts in international humanitarian law. Prof. dr. Frits Kalshoven (1924 – 2017) was Emeritus Professor public international law (University of Leiden) and of international humanitarian law (University of Groningen).