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Building Capacity in International Humanitarian and Criminal Law in Foreign Armed Forces: Some Experiences from Indonesia

Oslo, 12 January 2011

Link to Seminar Concept and Programme 

Building and strengthening the capacity of public institutions and civil society in international humanitarian and criminal law seems to be a growing priority among some states, international organizations and non-governmental organizations. The first Review Conference of the International Criminal Court held in Kampala in May and June of 2010 focused on such capacity building activities and adopted a resolution promoting further efforts in this area. But it is one thing to talk about capacity building; it is quite another to implement intelligent and sustainable activities that add distinct value to institutions and organizations that need assistance. There are normally stark limitations to what foreign actors can effectively and legitimately do in this regard, especially if they are states or non-governmental organizations with a human rights or policy agenda. The latter will in many situations not get access to public institutions in states that are affected by core international crimes or at risk of becoming territorial states.

Armed forces constitute one key cluster of national public actors that often need to strengthen capacity in international humanitarian and criminal law. But armed forces are frequently quite autonomous - if not detached - socio-political systems, with internal training and capacity building mechanisms. Adding value for such forces in a relevant way, building trust, and finding openings for co-operation on capacity building may be difficult for outsiders.

The Indonesia Programme of the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights of the University of Oslo has been co-operating with the Indonesian Armed Forces on training and capacity building in international humanitarian and criminal law for a number of years. The co-operation has become comprehensive. Can any lessons be learned by other countries and capacity building actors from the way this Programme operates? What are the key factors leading to the relative success of the Programme? How important is the country- and language-knowledge of the capacity builder? How should one communicate with the armed forces in the country in question? How does one ensure that the most relevant topics are raised in the capacity building activities?   

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