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2011 IHL Journalism competition

Wednesday July 20, 2011


Spotlighting leading cause of suffering in war

Journalism students are being called on to investigate the use and proliferation of small arms, the major cause of human suffering in war, in a writing competition organised by Red Cross.

'Rifles, machine guns, hand grenades are cheap to buy, and fairly simple to use, and there are around 875 million of these small arms in circulation worldwide,' said Australian Red Cross IHL Officer Eve Massingham.

'Because small arms are so easily available it means violations of the rules of war, and obstruction of relief efforts, are more likely - and that has huge mplications for those caught up in armed conflict.'

In this writing competition, run by Australian Red Cross, New Zealand Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, students are asked to submit a 1,000 word feature article under the title 'Small arms: big humanitarian challenges'. Red Cross runs the competition annually, focusing on the different topic of international humanitarian law.

'International humanitarian law, which is based around the Geneva Conventions, tries to limit the effects of armed conflict. These laws restrict the methods and means of warfare, and lay down protections for certain people caught up in conflict,' said Ms Massingham.

Red Cross has a special responsibility under the Geneva Conventions to promote public awareness about the conventions.

'Journalists often report on armed conflict and it's vital they have a working knowledge of international humanitarian law. Journalists working in war zones have certain rights and responsibilities and need to know about the laws of war for their own protection,' she said.

The competition is open to students studying journalism and/or communications at Australian and New Zealand universities. First prize is A$1,000, while second and third place winners will be awarded A$500 and A$250 respectively. Where possible the winning articles will be published.

The judging panel will include professional journalists and Red Cross representatives. Entries will be judged on originality, relevance, investigative skills, quality of writing, adherence to the word limit and an understanding of the principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The competition closes on 16 September 2011 and winners will be announced in late October. For more information visit All entries must be accompanied by a cover sheet which can be found on the website.

For media enquiries contact Red Cross media adviser Kim Batchelor on 0457 542 113 or