Participants from India, including government officials, academics, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement members, and other relevant bodies attended the second annual Asia Pacific Online Session (APOS) on international humanitarian law (IHL), organized in the virtual format from August 25 to September 29, 2022.

With the aim of facilitating meaningful engagement and deliberation on classic and contemporary issues related to IHL, participants attended 11 sessions over six weeks, including its scope, applicability, the law of armed conflict at sea, urban warfare, autonomous weapons, artificial intelligence and cyber operations in armed conflict, protecting affected populations and implementing IHL at the national and international levels. 

South Asian graduates of SATS have formed strong networks and continue to engage in IHL-related activities.

Geeta Pathak Sangroula, Professor of Human Rights and IHL at the Kathmandu School of Law, and Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of Nepal, has served as a resource person in numerous editions of SATS and is currently a member of the executive board of the ‘SATS IHL Forum’, a network of alumni in Nepal. She shares her reflections on the program.

“Each of my experiences in the SATS sessions that I have been a part of always leaves me with two important impressions. First, the importance of disseminating IHL knowledge despite the diverse backgrounds of participants. Second, the progress of the understanding of the nuances of IHL over the years through teaching sessions and increasing interest in participation in the SATS. These sessions have not only created a steady network of IHL practitioners and enthusiasts, but it has, through its numerous sessions and workshops, allowed these networks to learn and unlearn various aspects of IHL.” 

Raihan Rahman Rafid, Senior Program Officer-IHL at the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS), described the sessions as “a useful platform to learn more about the application and implementation of IHL from distinguished persons involved in carrying out those roles at the ICRC, academicians and field experts. From discussing recent developments in a global context to sharing insights of diverse participants and speakers, the engaging and interactive setting has been instrumental for me in deepening my knowledge on IHL.”  

APOS was launched in 2021 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in response to the need for an online continuation and adaptation of face-to-face training programmes throughout the Asia Pacific region. In the past, the ICRC conducted courses in South Asia on international humanitarian law (SATS) and in Southeast and Northeast Asia on international humanitarian law (SNAS).

In 2023, APOS will return to its face-to-face avatar as SATS.