The Geneva Conventions are a set of rules that apply in times of armed conflict and seek to protect people who are not or are no longer taking part in hostilities including children, the sick and wounded, civilians and prisoners of war. Over the past seven decades, the Geneva Conventions have saved countless lives in conflicts around the world.

However, when these laws are not respected, there can be devastating humanitarian consequences. This anniversary is an opportunity to reaffirm our support for the Geneva Conventions and ensure that everyone, including any enemy, is treated as a human being.

In August 2019, New Zealand Red Cross organised a series of activities to acknowledge the real human stories behind the 70 years of the Geneva Conventions.

We ran a competition calling for young creative minds aged 18 to 30 to submit a piece of content explaining what the rules of war mean and why they are important to them. The winners attended a two-day workshop in Wellington to learn more about IHL, alongside emerging Pacific leaders, New Zealand Red Cross youth activators and IHL volunteers.

IHL workshop attendees at Parliament.

The 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions was also acknowledged at Parliament, where New Zealand Red Cross, workshop attendees and more than 170 guests were hosted by the Prime Minister. The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern opened the event by reminding everyone of the importance of the Geneva Conventions and the role of Red Cross in times of conflict and disaster.

"Whenever our country, or indeed, our world, has faced a humanitarian crisis, it has been Rīpeka Whero Aotearoa that has been there to help, the Prime Minister said.

To follow the theme of human stories, five inspiring speakers including IHL competition winner, Saba Afrasyabi, and New Zealand Red Cross youth activator, Sakhr Munassar, shared their personal experiences of IHL.