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Mzuzu University students drilled in international humanitarian law

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Mzuzu University (Mzuni) security studies students were on Friday drilled in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) by experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

During the training, the facilitators warned that although Malawi is a peaceful country, it needs to have people who are knowledgeable in IHL.

The training, which was conducted by ICRC Regional Legal Adviser Sarah Swart and Deputy Head of Communication Hilton Zvidzayi, preceded academic presentations by some of the students.

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“Although Malawi is peaceful it has to ratify IHL. You never know what will happen to Malawi one day just like the case of Libya.

“Malawi has also to show African solidarity and Africa as a whole can have a say in the development of IHL. Countries that take part in peacekeeping like Malawi need to ratify this law to monitor the conduct of soldiers,” said Swart.

In an interview, Zvidzayi said in Malawi ICRC was dealing with Mzuni security studies students and Chancellor College law students and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

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He said they also help prepare Malawi Defence Force soldiers before going on peacekeeping mission.

“Our visits to the universities are important to equip the students with knowledge on IHL so that they know and apply it and raise awareness about it. We also came to revive the national IHL committee,” said Zvidzayi.

Mzuni IHL course director Dan Kuwali said the subject was significant because during armed conflicts, soldiers would use only acceptable weapons and military tactics and know the categories of people and goods to protect.

Kuwali, who is also the national chairperson for the national IHL committee, said the grouping became dormant because it lacked an action plan.

He said he was now happy that it has been revived.

Kuwali also said the committee involves various stakeholders from both government and the private sector.

IHL is a set of international rules, established by treaty or custom, which are specifically intended to solve humanitarian problems directly arising from international or non-international armed conflicts.

It protects persons and property that are, or may be, affected by an armed conflict and limits the rights of the parties to a conflict to use methods and means of warfare of their choice.

A cross-section of stakeholders, including High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise attended the event.

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