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Event: 2015 Red Cross Oration


Facing the Future: Current Challenges to International Humanitarian Law, presented by Helen Durham

Start Date

20 May 2015 6:00 pm

End Date

20 May 2015 7:30 pm


Stanley Burbury Theatre, University Centre, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact

E:; T: 6226 2521

Facing the Future: Current Challenges to International Humanitarian Law

presented by

Dr Helen Durham

Humanitarian actors such as ICRC operate in situations of increasingly complex, fragmented and volatile armed conflicts. Every day, as Director of International Law and Policy for the ICRC based in Geneva, Dr Helen Durham faces legal and policy challenges arising from the global humanitarian operations of ICRC and is tasked to ensure that ICRC remains the global reference organisation on international humanitarian law ('IHL' also known as the law of war).

Focusing on key themes such as improving compliance with IHL, increasing engagement with non-state armed groups and the work being done to prevent sexual violence - Helen will discuss some of the contemporary challenges facing international humanitarian law and humanitarian action.

About Helen Durham

Helen Durham is the ICRC Director of International Law and Policy – the first woman to hold the position and the first non-Swiss national (and first Australian) to join the ICRC Directorate. Helen holds a doctorate in the fields of international humanitarian law and international criminal law and is a senior fellow at the Melbourne Law School. She was director of international law, strategy, planning and research at the Australian Red Cross and has worked as ICRC head of office in Sydney and as legal adviser to the ICRC regional delegation in the Pacific. She has completed a number of missions with the ICRC in Myanmar, Aceh, the Philippines and widely in the Pacific.

Helen was involved in multilateral negotiations in New York, Rome and Geneva. She served as an Editorial Board member of the International Review of the Red Cross and previously worked as Director of Research for the Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law at Melbourne Law School. Helen regularly presents to governments, the military, the UN and academics and has published widely on IHL related topics.

About the Red Cross Oration

The Red Cross Oration springs from a collaboration between the University of Tasmania and Australian Red Cross. The organisations have joined together to present an annual oration. The purpose is to contribute to the advancement of public understanding and interdisciplinary dialogue concerning issues of human significance in the contemporary world. The Oration is presented by an internationally renowned speaker and has the primary purpose of introducing to the wider community issues that connect broadly with the values and principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

While the speaker may come from any discipline, the focus of the Oration is on an important contemporary issue that has a distinctly human meaning and significance whether related, for instance, to some aspect of human distress or suffering, human dignity or respect, or human understanding and human engagement.

Refreshments from 5.30pm.


Institute for Social Change
University of Tasmania
Private Bag 44


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