Conference: Reducing Suffering During Conflict

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 26, 2019

Reducing Suffering During Conflict: The Interface Between Buddhism and International Humanitarian Law

International Conference of The International Committee of the Red Cross
Dambulla, Sri Lanka
4–6 September 2019

Though there are over half a billion Buddhists around the world, there has so far been no systematic and focused study of the interface between Buddhism and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The core of IHL—also known as “the law of war” or “the law of armed conflict”—is formed by the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. Its purpose is to minimize suffering during armed conflict by protecting those who do not—or no longer—participate directly in hostilities, and by regulating the means and methods of warfare.

Buddhism has grappled with the reality of war throughout its long history. But what guidance does Buddhism provide to those caught up in the midst of hostilities, and how do Buddhism and IHL compare in this respect? It is timely and relevant to explore these two distinct bodies of ethics and legal traditions from inter-disciplinary perspectives.

This conference, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in collaboration with a number of universities and organizations, will explore correspondences between Buddhism and IHL and encourage a constructive dialogue and exchange between the two domains. The conference will act as a springboard to understanding how Buddhism can contribute to regulating armed conflict, and what it offers in terms of guidance on the conduct of, and behavior during, war for Buddhist monks and lay persons—the latter including government and military personnel, non-State armed groups and civilians. The conference is concerned with the conduct of armed conflict, and not with the reasons and justifications for it, which fall outside the remit of IHL.
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