The Philippines joins the international humanitarian community in affirming International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as it commemorates this year’s IHL Day, guided by the theme, “Upholding IHL as we recover from the Pandemic: Bayanihan to Reduce the Suffering in Armed Conflict Toward Advancing the Gains of Peace and Reconciliation.”

Decades since nations around the world have pledged to uphold human dignity in times of armed conflict, international humanitarian law continues to govern states as it limits the effect of conflict, restricts the means and methods of warfare, and protects the vulnerable in times of war. The Bangsamoro region is no stranger to armed conflict and, which is why the regional government has a deep and profound appreciation of international humanitarian law. 

While IHL is based on international agreements, its context is ultimately rooted in the lived experiences of communities in areas of conflict. The framework and principles that define IHL also provide a strong foundation for establishing mechanisms and institutions that can help make transitional justice and reconciliation a reality. In navigating the political transition parallel to our Covid-19 recovery efforts, we must let the humanitarian principles behind IHL define the programs and policies that we wish to implement in the region, as we deal with our past and build our future.