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Report of the 9th international Course on LOAC


The new organisation of regional courses on the law of armed conflict.

For the last 9 years the ICMM and the Swiss Armed Forces have been holding a course on the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) in Spiez in Switzerland. Its aim is to demonstrate relationships, responsibilities and interdependencies between the specific functions of the medical services and International Humanitarian Law. The course has been specifically made for medical officers, in particular military doctors as well as other interested members of the Armed Forces and of the administration. At present, long travel distances as well as the cost factor, make it impossible for many officers to participate on the course. Also the course can only accept a limited number of participants. Therefore the General Assembly ICMM, at its last congress in Tunis 2007 decided to develop decentralised courses, using the course in Spiez as a reference course.

At the 37th General Assembly of the ICMM in Tunis in May 2007, it was decided to create a Technical Teaching Commission. This commission shall run the decentralised courses and is responsible for ICMM teaching. The Swiss Colonel (MD) Hans U. BAER, who has been the commander of the course in Spiez for the last 5 years, was elected Chairman of the Technical Commission. Colonel Baer along with his support team and his staff of international teachers (lawyers), have worked side by side for several years to build up the course in Spiez. They will work together for the planned expansion. The Spiez team will still continue to run the Swiss course. At the same time, they will invite specialists for the training of instructors for other locations, of supervising other sessions of training, of evolving the programmes and evaluating the opportunities to teach in other countries. The ICMM has the ability to mandate an ICMM Member-State, or a suitable regional group of ICMM members to organise a regional ICMM-LOAC course under the auspices of this new technical commission for education.  

As of 2008, regional sessions will be organised, the first being a course in February in South Africa. Other locations will be added progressively in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The course content has been developed in the Spiez course and is mandatory for the regional ICMM-LOAC courses. Changes in content will require the authorisation by the Swiss Surgeon General in coordination with the competent LOAC specialists of the Swiss Armed Forces, and will have to be approved by the ICMM Scientific Council. The scientific content of a regional ICMM-LOAC course must achieve the standards set out by the original ICMM-LOAC course of Spiez.

The course is kept neutral and the organisers must refrain from any political, religious or other side-taking. The discussions in the course must take place under the Chattenham-Rules, no contribution of a teaching staff member or a participant may be attributed to a nation. The teaching staff will be competent and experienced to disseminate and present the LOAC as well as the other scientific content of the ICMM-LOAC course. The experienced teaching staff of the original ICMM-LOAC course will contribute to these new sessions. If additional teaching staff are required, such staff must fulfil a number of predefined criteria. Moreover, guest lecturers are to be selected in cooperation with the organisers of the original ICMM-LOAC course.

If the decentralisation is successful, as wished by the ICMM, then the number of professionally trained military teaching staff worldwide can be increased, and thus lead to the improvement of compliance with the law of armed conflicts. The ICMM hopes therefore to contribute to better understanding and implementing the LOAC and international humanitarian law according to its constitution and the ever increasing demand for answers in the complex world of international conflicts.

If there is interest for the course as an international teacher or if an ICMM Member-State has the willingness to participate in a decentralised course please contact Colonel Hans U. BAER.

Colonel Hans U. BAER
Klinik Hirslanden
Witellikerstrasse 40
CH-8032 Zürich

Phone: +41 44 387 30 70
Fax:     +41 44 387 30 90