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October 22, 1999


Representatives from member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) will be joining international humanitarian law experts for a high-level seminar at the OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., next Monday to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Convention.

The Organization’s Secretary General, César Gaviria, will open the meeting which the OAS Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross are jointly sponsoring in collaboration with the OAS Department of Legal Cooperation and Information.

One of the seminar’s panel discussions will focus on the topic "An Assessment of and Perspectives on International Humanitarian Law in the Americas," with Jaques Foster, Vice President of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Reto Meister, Chief of Operations, and David Meddings, epidemiologist, both of the Red Cross. Jorge García González, Director of the OAS Department of Legal Cooperation and Information, will moderate those discussions.

Another panel will deal with the topic "The International Criminal Court." Participants on this panel are journalist Roy Gutman; Mahnous Arsanjani, delegate in the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs; and Silvia Fernández Gurmendi, legal advisor to the Permanent Mission of Argentina to the United Nations. Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, Mexico’s Alternate Representative to the OAS, will moderate this panel discussion.

On several occasions, the OAS General Assembly has recognized the importance of the issue in the legal development of the Americas and has called on member states to abide by the principles set forth in the 1949 Geneva Convention. Last June, the General Assembly passed a resolution on the promotion and observance of international humanitarian law, saying it was "deeply concerned" at the persistent violations of these laws around the world, and in particular at the fate of civilian populations which are increasingly subject to attacks. Documents and presentations to be delivered at this seminar will be made available at the OAS website, at: www.oas.org