The similarities between International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Islamic Law are not coincidental. They stem from universal ideals and shared principles, emphasizing the importance of fostering a deeper understanding and effective implementation of these laws.
UP Diliman (UPD) Chancellor Edgardo Carlo L. Vistan II highlighted this point in his message during the welcoming dinner of the three-day certificate course on International Humanitarian Law and Islamic Law related to Armed Conflict (Siyar). He remarked, “I believe this [certificate course] serves as a significant point of convergence and understanding because International Humanitarian Laws are universal. They embody excellent values and principles to comprehend and appreciate, irrespective of our beliefs. What unites all these IHL principles is our shared commitment to human dignity, a value cherished by all.”
UP Institute of Islamic Studies (UPIIS) Dean Professor Julkipli M. Wadi further emphasized the program’s importance. According to him, “It has a rich discipline in Islamic law, referred to as Siyar. It is timely not only in the Philippines but also in other countries, where numerous communities require intervention, especially from human rights groups and humanitarian missions and institutions.”
In light of this, UPIIS is firmly committed to continuing its partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the implementation of the certificate course. This collaboration further reinforces the Institute’s mission to support the Muslim Ummah and, importantly, contributes to UP’s commitment to public service.
Mr. Dany Merhy, Head of Prevention of ICRC Philippines, underscored the significance of achieving these objectives in his opening speech. He emphasized that “dialogue, especially between humanitarian organizations and religious leaders, can establish a solid common ground and convey powerful messages to communities, armed carriers , and decision-makers.”
These objectives were further addressed through a series of lectures and activities led by resource speakers from both UPIIS and ICRC during this year’s certificate course, held from September 19 to September 21, 2023, at the Oblation Lounge, University Hotel, UP Diliman, Quezon City. This extension project aims to promote understanding and knowledge of the rules of IHL and Islamic Law, particularly those relevant to armed conflict, and to explore their compatibility. It also provides participants with an opportunity to engage in discourse, deepening their collaboration in safeguarding the lives and dignity of victims of armed violence.
Throughout the course, various speakers from UPIIS and ICRC covered topics such as ICRC’s mission in the Philippines, dialogue on IHL and Islamic Law, International Islamic Law, the Islamic Law of War (“Siyar”), and the relationship between IHL and Human Rights Law. Additional lectures addressed conflict classification, protection of individuals and objects under IHL, preserving dignity for the deceased, combating sexual violence, and the protection of detainees and prisoners of war in Islamic Law of War.
The final day of the course focused on humanitarian law and assistance initiatives by Muslim institutions in the Philippines. Topics included healthcare worker protection, ICRC healthcare initiatives, conflicts in the Bangsamoro region, contemporary challenges in implementing IHL, and engaging with decision-makers on IHL and Islamic Law. It concluded with a group discussion moderated by Prof. Darwin Absari, UPIIS faculty, allowing participants to express their thoughts and insights on effectively engaging with decision-makers on IHL and Islamic Law related to armed conflict. Among the major recommendations put forth by the participants was the continuous conduct of certificate courses with longer durations and broader participation, including non-Muslims.
This year’s certificate course drew twenty-five participants from various regions, including Davao, Cotabato, Basilan, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Cebu, Butuan, and Manila. Participants represented government organizations, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, academia, non-governmental organizations, various BARMM agencies, non-state actors, Islamic scholars, and the revert Muslim movement.