I am neither a scholar nor an expert but think myself to be a student who is fond of learning and sharing experiences. The topic selected for the deliberations in this august forum is of significant in nature because of today’s changing global scenario of warfare, terrorism and conflicts and resultantly occurring violations to IHL. Let me say few sentences about IHL which came in to existence after the great massacre of Sulferino. The Henry Dunant in his book published in 1882 stressed on:
- A permanent relief agency for humanitarian agency in times of war and;
- A government treaty recognizing the neutrality of the agency and allowing it to aid in a war zone.
The former led to establishment of Red Cross in Geneva and the second gave birth to Geneva Convention 1949 on IHL followed by Protocol-I & II 1977 related to protection of victims and Protocol 2005 related to adoption of an additional distinctive emblem. The IHL or the law of armed conflict is the law that regulates the conduct of armed conflicts. It comprises the Geneva Convention and the Hague Convention as well as the subsequent treaties, case law and the international customary law. It defines the conduct and responsibilities of Belligerent nations and neutral nations and individuals engaged in warfare in relation to civilians. Serious violations to IHL are called war crimes. It regulates the conduct of armed forces when engaged in war or conflict and includes crimes against peace and war of aggression etc. The law is mandatory for nations bound by the appropriate treaties. There are also customary unwritten rules of war, many of which were explored at the Nuremburg war trials when dealing with irregular forces and non-signatories.
Unfortunately Muslim countries some times, are blamed for not adhering, the World Treaties and Protocol Agreements that is very much unfair. According to me it is, because of unawareness of the western brotherhood about Islam and the impacts of gross-root causes forced in them directly or indirectly and exploitation of the resources of the underdeveloped and developing countries. Off course majority of the suffering countries are Muslim countries including Pakistan. At the movement Pakistan is suffering with the worst situation of war & terror within the state and undesirable outside intervention, who are enemies of Pakistan. It is a challenging question as to why violations to the IHL is observed in the form of aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, terrorism , creed for domination on others. It is only because of delivery of injustice and exploitation of natural resources of poor countries- may be Muslim and non Muslim countries by our international elder brothers (super powers). Islam is a religion of peace and pays much respect than other nations in the perspective of Human rights, women rights, children rights and off course the IHL may be with some minor reservations according to our faith and beliefs.
All in this world is answerable to Allah for their deeds and Allah does not belong to Muslims only but for all human beings. He says:
“He has made nations and tribes so that human can recognize each other and not so that they may despise each other and fights amongst themselves”.
So being the followers of Islam, Muslims are bound to promote universal brotherhood irrespective of race, cast ,color, creed and even the sexes are overall equal but no doubt in some aspects. Again some sayings of Holly Quran are reproduced here to have a batter common understanding with IHL. Allah says:
1. If any person kills any human being whether Muslim or non-Muslim (irrespective of race, cast, color or creed) unless for Qasas or spreading mischief in the land, it is , as if he has killed whole of community.
- 2. He is not a Muslim who sleeps with his full stomach while his neighbors ( Both Muslim or non-Muslim) are hungry
- 3. And do not eat up property of others to be judged as you may eat up wrongfully.
4. Regarding the prisoner of war Islam emphasis on forgiveness. Allah Says: “Treat people the way you want them to treat you.
Islam is a great religion that prohibits immorality, humiliation, neglect and excesses and protects the dignity of human beings, collateral damage and genocide etc. I feel no hesitation in saying that the seven principles of Red Cross and Red Crescent, humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality are very much Islamic and taken successfully by Red Crescent Societies, OIC member states including Pakistan.
An International Conference on Humanitarian Law and Sharia’ was organized at International Islamic University Islamabad in 2004 and sponsored by ICRC. I would like to quote common understandings as an outcome of the conference:
- The eminent scholar Dr. Wahbeh Al-zuhilli of Syria said that the protection of human life, property and dignity are the universal Islamic doctrines that predate IHL.
- Prof. Saluh Abdul Badi of Egypt told the participants of the said conference:
“Islamic Rules/laws also layout comprehensive guide lines for protection of non-combatants which are similar to the provisions enshrined in IHL.
- Saudi scholar Mr. Abdul Rehman, stated that there is coherence between the two systems of the law over treatment of medical personnel, women and children, the injured, the missing and dead and the displaced people.
- Mr. Salbiah Ahmed a scholar of Malysia said “The first requirements to building bridges and trust between Muslims and the international community are transparency and the Sharing between IHL and sharia’ experts are a positive step in that direction”.
- Dr.Zammali, the then ICRC advisor in Cairo 2004, said the participants of the conference were able to establish that there were no major contradictions between secular humanitarian law and the relevant principles of sharia’
- Professor Ismail Muhammad Alhaj from Sudan said that a part from the fundamentals of sharia’ that cannot be altered, this conference has answered and raised many questions that will continue to be discussed among scholars overtime.
After going through all above references of Holly Quran and honorable scholars it is, very much clear that Islam prohibits genocide, immortality, humiliation, neglect and accesses protects the dignity of human beings, and collateral damages etc. during peace times and after war. I think major other religions of the world agree on it and available in their teachings. Therefore Islamic world love human beings irrespective of caste, creed and religion and that is why I said elder brothers to the super powers. They should understand true picture of Islam and the problems faced by the Muslim world particularly developing and under developing countries besides non-Muslim Countries. They should mobilize their surplus resources as elder brothers towards these countries with a widespread vision, no matter the gap would prevail no longer. The world is called global village in this era and we must think to be the citizens of this global village. There are certain differences emerged in the recent past between the non Muslim brotherhood and the Muslim world and it is because of non-access to international media and the laxity on our part that we could not approach them in a convincible manner. Being younger brothers to the international brotherhood we should value their laws and respect them in dealing with international affairs and the state OIC can take the responsibility of reviewing the existing legislation in Muslim world and integration of the IHL with Islam and Sharia’. The time has now come and let the ball be at the courts of elder brothers. Islam also emphasizes on development of consensus, between parties, dialogue and forgiveness therefore it is obligatory for Muslims to promote it.
Implementation of Islamic Laws (Sharia’) is essential for our survival; it can be sustained by faith and hope, and strengthened by enthusiasm. It is greater than sight, deeper than a dream, broader than an idea. No wonder and God forbid we parish without it. May Allah stretch our vision further right from today (Aamin).
Lastly I have the honor to put forth some suggestions as under, may it be already incorporated in the future agenda of OIC:
- Review existing legislations of all OIC states and integrate IHL according to sharia’ if not done already.
- Resolve problems and conflicts of Muslim world through dialogue in accordance with Sharia’ under the umbrella of OIC.
- Non-Muslim laws may be respected internationally and at the national level along with launching awareness raising campaign for changing attitudes and behavior with in the states and at the international level by the OIC.
- A mechanism of joint defense and Implementation of Sharia’ laws and IHL in the OIC can be developed with the consent of respective member states. For this purpose support could come from the UNO and this would address misunderstanding among the international brotherhood.
“ The contributor is a renowned social and human rights activist serving as Chairman of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society Gilgit Baltistan chapter. He had presented this report in the OIC conference held from 29 Feb-2nd March 2012 in North Cyprus.”