The International Law Division and The Concord Centre for the Integration of International Law in Israel at the Law School, The College of Management Academic Studies; the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Israel and the Occupied and Autonomous Territories and the Minerva Center for Human Rights, Faculty of Law Tel Aviv University , are organizing an international conference to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 as well as the 150th anniversary of the battle of Solferino.

This event will examine the nature of humanitarianism in armed conflict, exploring change over time in theory, normative and institutional development and practice. The conference will take place at the Law School, The College of Management Academic Studies on 16-17 December 2009.

Recipients of this call for papers are invited to submit proposals to present a paper at the conference. Authors of select proposals will be offered flight expenses to Israel and accommodation for the duration of the conference.


While principles and customs seeking to limit the ravages of war have a genealogy reaching back to antiquity, the genesis of modern humanitarianism is commonly traced to the battle of Solferino (24 June 1859). A Memory of Solferino (1862), Henry Dunant’s poignant account of the horrors he had witnessed in the aftermath of the battle, in fact generated the foundation of the Red Cross movement as well as the adoption of the First Geneva Convention of 1864. These twin developments were, in turn, the precursors for the subsequent proliferation of humanitarian aid agencies and for the creation of the expansive normative framework constituting cotemporary international humanitarian law (IHL).

Since Solferino, the evolution of the humanitarian project has been consistently propelled by a quest to overcome failures exposed through painful experience. This was never more apparent then when the Geneva Conventions of 1949 were concluded in the wake of the outrages of the Second World War. The 1949 Conventions, which have been acceded to by 194 States and enjoy virtually universal acceptance, established a system of legal safeguards that now form the bedrock of IHL. However, over the last sixty years many new challenges have emerged making it necessary for humanitarian law and practice to evolve still further.

By looking at humanitarianism’s passage through time, much can be learned about its present state and future prospects. What, for example, has remained its essential meaning even as it reinvented itself time and again? What is the meaning of the principle of distinction in an era when most armed conflicts are fought by and against civilians? What should be conserved and where is there need for progress? What dilemmas, trials and impasses has IHL encountered and which of these are likely to continue to beset it? Who participates in the current making of humanitarian norms? What is the role of Military Advocates General in this process? Has IHL benefited from its convergence with Human Rights Law?

Purpose of the Conference:

The conference aims to celebrate the remarkable humanitarian achievements that have arisen from the constitutive moments of 1859 and 1949, but in so doing it seeks not only to highlight what has been accomplished, but also to assess what remains to be achieved and draw lessons for the future. To this end, the conference will consist of three panels each addressing a separate issue.

The first panel will focus on the concept of “humanitarian action”. Contributors will be invited to reflect on the theoretical underpinnings of “humanitarianism” and the nature of humanitarian action as well as the challenges and dilemmas it entails.

The second panel will examine change over time in IHL since Solferino. Here contributors will be invited to critically appraise the ways in which humanitarian law and practices have been adapted to respond to emerging challenges, the degree to which they have withstood the tests of time and other related questions.

The third and final panel will look into current ways and means of making (and unmaking) humanitarian norms. In particular, contributors will be invited to reflect on questions arising from the ways in which the role of States as authors of IHL norms is increasingly complemented and perhaps also challenged by humanitarian actors and other elements of civil society; the relationship between military action and legal counsel and the role and responsibility of Military Advocates General.

Researchers interested in addressing these issues, are invited to respond to this call for papers with a one-page proposal for a presentation, along with a brief CV. Proposals should be submitted no later than 15 July 2009, by email, to Mr. Ariel Yosef, the Executive Secretary of the Concord Center, at the following address: The e-mail should indicate: “Humanitarianism”.

All applicants should receive notification of the academic committee’s decision by 15 August 2009. Short written contributions (of approx. 8-10 pages) based on the selected proposals will be expected by 1 November 2009.

Conference Academic Committee:

Prof. Orna Ben-Naftali, Dean, The School of Law, The College of Management Academic Studies

Prof. Frances Raday, Chair, the Concord Center, The School of Law, The College of Management Academic Studies

Dr. Shai Lavi, Director, the Minerva Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law Tel-Aviv University

Adv. Larry Maybee, ICRC, Israel and the Occupied and Autonomous Territories

Adv. Eitan Diamond, ICRC, Israel and the Occupied and Autonomous Territories