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The Geneva Conventions are turning 70

Hear experts discuss the Geneva Conventions on their 70th anniversary.

Attend an event hosted by the IHL Advisory Committees of Australian Red Cross in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth or Hobart to hear experts discuss the Geneva Conventions on their 70th anniversary. Are they still relevant? What have been their successes and challenges? Where to next?


Thursday, 15 August 2019
5:45pm to 7:15pm
Napier G03 Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide

In Adelaide, Australian Red Cross and the Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics (RUMLAE) at the Adelaide Law School are hosting a free seminar bringing together four panellists to explore the topic “International Humanitarian Law: 70 years after the Geneva Conventions”.

The seminar aims to provide members of the public with unique insight into the challenges and opportunities technology brings to IHL, and highlight the perspective of experienced professionals and humanitarians dedicated to addressing these issues.

Our presenters will share their stories and insight gathered from both here in Australia and overseas, engaging with questions from both the moderator and the audience.


Professor Melissa de Zwart Dean of Adelaide Law School
Petra Ball Adviser, International Humanitarian Law, Australian Red Cross
Professor Dale Stephens CSM Chair of the SA IHL Advisory Committee Chair and Director, RUMLAE
WGCDR Hatem Abiad Acting Director, Legal Division, Air Command Australian Defence Force


Monday, 12 August 2019
6pm to 7:30pm
Court Room 1, Harry Gibbs Commonwealth Law Courts Building, 119 North Quay (entry via Tank Street), Brisbane

In Brisbane, Australian Red Cross is hosting a free seminar to explore why the Geneva Conventions are more relevant than ever. The seminar will bring together four panellists with direct experience.


Ruth Jebb Emergency Nurse
Katrina Elliot Protection Specialist
Captain John Kavanagh Legal Practice Director, Pacific Maritime Lawyers and Consultants
Peter Run University of Queensland


Tuesday, 20 August 2019
6pm to 8pm
Room 102, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Are the Geneva Conventions still relevant 70 years after their adoption?  Can laws forged in the wake of WWII - a conflict predominantly fought by state armed forces using conventional weapons - adequately regulate modern conflicts involving non-state armed actors, cyber operations and terrorist agendas - with the spectre of autonomous weapons using artificial intelligence on the horizon? Are the Geneva Conventions, agreed in an era of hope in multilateralism and collective security, bound to be cast aside in a time when the international rules-based order faces an existential crisis?  Come along to our Great Debate, co-hosted by the Victorian IHL Advisory Committee and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Military Law, and hear two teams of heavy-hitting, quick-talking experts debate the relevance of the Geneva Conventions 70 years on.

The Affirmative Team:
Yvette Zegenhagen, National Manager, IHL at Australian Red Cross
Colonel Arun Lambert, CSC, Director of the Military Law Centre

The Negative Team:
Dr Jonathan Kolieb, Senior Lecturer in Law, Graduate School of Business and Law, RMIT University
Dr Carrie McDougall, Senior Lecturer, Melbourne Law School


Friday, 16 August 2019
12:45pm to 5pm (1pm start)
City of Perth Library

This event is now at capacity and registrations have closed.

In Perth, Australian Red Cross is hosting a free seminar to explore the successes and challenges of the Geneva Conventions. The first panel will discuss Healthcare in Danger, and the issue of increasing attacks against medical personnel and facilities in situations of armed conflict, and the second will focus on IHL in Practice, working to ensure respect for the laws of war in an operational context and accountability mechanisms for when these laws are not complied with.

Opening remarks: The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia


Dr Tarun Weeramanthri Independent Consultant in Health and former Chief Health Officer of Western Australia
Anne Carey Nurse and Humanitarian
Leonard Blazeby Head of Mission to ICRC, Australia 
Major James Thomson Department of Defence
Dr Melanie O’Brien Senior Lecturer in International Law at the University of Western Australia 

Registrations have closed as this event has reached capacity.


Thursday, 15 August 
5.30pm to 7.30pm
Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney

In Sydney, Australian Red Cross is hosting a free seminar bringing together four panellists to explore why, 70 years after their adoption, the Geneva Conventions are needed more than ever. The seminar aims to provide members of the public with an insight into the on-the-ground experience of humanitarian and military practitioners, and the impact of technology on the future of armed conflict.


Cristina de Leon Conflict Nurse with experience in Afghanistan, Somalia and Myanmar and recent recipient of the Australian Red Cross Florence Nightingale Medal
Brigadier Neil Sweeney AM Deputy Commander of the Australian Army 2nd Division
Chris Sidoti Human Rights Lawyer and Expert Member of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar
Professor Stephen Freeland Professor of International Law at Western Sydney University and International Space
Nicole Urban Chair, NSW IHL Advisory Committee at Australian Red Cross


Monday, 12 August
5.30pm to 7pm
The Terrace, Hotel Kurrajong, Barton

In Canberra, the Australian Red Cross is holding a reception to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, hosting international law experts and government officials. The Chair of the ACT IHL Advisory Committee and the Legal Adviser from the ICRC Mission to Australia will present remarks on the significance of the Geneva Conventions 70 years on.

There is no requirement to register for this event.


Wednesday, 21 August 2019
Government House Tasmania
7 Lower Domain Road, Queen’s Domain, Hobart

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, and Mr Richard Warner are kindly hosting a lecture and reception to mark the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.

Attendance is by invitation.