Call for Papers
Theme: Reducing Suffering During Conflict
Subtitle: The Interface Between Buddhism and International
Type: International Conference
Institution: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Location: Dambulla (Sri Lanka)
Though there are over half a billion Buddhists around the world,
there has so far been no systematic and focused study of the
interface between Buddhism and International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
The core of IHL – also known as “the law of war” or “the law of armed
conflict”– is formed by the Geneva Conventions and their Additional
Protocols. Its purpose is to minimize suffering during armed conflict
by protecting those who do not – or no longer – participate directly
in hostilities, and by regulating the means and methods of warfare.
Buddhism has grappled with the reality of war throughout its long
history. But what guidance does Buddhism provide to those caught up
in the midst of hostilities, and how do Buddhism and IHL compare in
this respect? It is timely and relevant to explore these two distinct
bodies of ethics and legal traditions from inter-disciplinary
This conference, organized by the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) in collaboration with a number of universities and
organizations, will explore correspondences between Buddhism and IHL
and encourage a constructive dialogue and exchange between the two
domains. The conference will act as a springboard to understanding
how Buddhism can contribute to regulating armed conflict, and what it
offers in terms of guidance on the conduct of, and behavior during,
war for Buddhist monks and lay persons – the latter including
government and military personnel, non-State armed groups and
civilians. The conference is concerned with the conduct of armed
conflict, and not with the reasons and justifications for it, which
fall outside the remit of IHL.
In addition to exploring correspondences between IHL and Buddhist
ethics, the conference will also explore how Buddhist combatants and
communities understand IHL, and where it might align with Buddhist
doctrines and practices: similarly, how their experience of armed
conflict might be drawn upon to better promote IHL and Buddhist
principles, thereby improving conduct of hostilities on the ground.
Papers presented at the conference must address at least one of the
following lead questions:
1. What correspondences are there between Buddhist ethics and IHL?
2. Where does IHL fit into Buddhist doctrines and practices? Which
Buddhist teachings and traditions are most relevant to IHL and
situations of armed conflict?
3. What measures are helpful in regulating warfare and reducing
suffering during armed conflict according to Buddhist teachings and
4. How do Buddhist communities conceptualize and understand IHL, and
where can IHL be seen to align with Buddhist doctrines and
5. What level of agreement and commitment for IHL – in general, and
its various specific aspects – can be expected from Buddhist
communities? What is a Buddhist theoretical position on IHL and how
can Buddhists engage with this body of law?
6. What practical guidance and resources can Buddhist teaching and
practice provide to Buddhist combatants and communities involved in
armed conflict, and also what direct experiences of armed conflict
can be drawn upon to help improve the conduct of hostilities?
7. To examine and document Buddhist religious teaching, practices and
approaches to specific IHL-related problems such as the handling
and treatment of casualties and dead bodies during armed conflict,
and the treatment of prisoners of war/detainees.
8. To examine how the application of Buddhist principles has had a
positive effect on the conduct of armed conflict in Buddhist
Note that abstracts on the reasons and justifications for war,
conflict prevention, peacekeeping, mediation, conflict resolution,
post-conflict reconciliation and identity politics fall outside the
remit of Buddhism as it relates to IHL, and will not be accepted.
Otherwise, this conference aims to generate a positive spirit of
understanding and cooperation between diverse participants for the
promotion of IHL and Buddhist principles which might minimize
suffering in armed conflict situations.
A number of respected Buddhist scholars are working with the ICRC to
produce a first exploratory position Paper on Buddhism and IHL
(latest draft available here) which attempts to explore some of the
territory to be covered in terms of topic, sources and approaches, in
such a way as to familiarize readers with some of the existing
coverage and potential themes and questions that they might address.
This and other documents related to the content and arrangement on
the conference will be refreshed on this page in the coming weeks and
Should researchers remain in doubt about the exact focus of the
conference – which is entirely understandable given that this subject
matter has rarely, if ever, been tackled before – please do not
hesitate to contact us (see below).
The organizers look forward to receiving abstracts of 200–300 words
together with extended abstracts of 1000 words and a brief CV of not
more than one page of A4 from researchers and professionals of all
relevant disciplines. In addition to Buddhist and legal scholars, for
example, candidates might also include active or former combatants,
military personnel or other professionals. Presentations at the
conference will last 20 to 30 minutes, followed by a short period for
The main working languages for the conference (and of the papers
submitted) will be English and Sinhala, although papers in other
languages, including Thai, Burmese and Tamil, can also be
accommodated (please enquire for further details). Simultaneous
translation will be arranged by the organizers at the conference.
Please send your abstracts, extended abstracts and brief one-page CV
by 25 April 2019 to Mr. Budi Hernawan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further enquiries concerning the content/academic aspects of the
conference, requirements for submissions and other more practical
matters should be addressed to:
Mr. Sylvester Worthington at email@example.com, office:
(+94)112503346 ext.118, mobile (+94)772268290
(for Sinhala speakers and those in Sri Lanka)
Mr. Budi Hernawan at firstname.lastname@example.org
(for those in South and Southeast Asia)
Mr. Andrew Bartles-Smith at email@example.com
(for those elsewhere)
The ICRC and its network of Buddhist and IHL experts will then
endeavour to assist.
The organizers intend to secure travel allowances for selected
participants who have no academic affiliation or are unable to cover
their travel costs. Accommodation will be provided for all accepted
speakers. In the abstract, please indicate whether you would like to
apply for a travel allowance.
The ICRC is an impartial, neutral and independent organization whose
exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity
of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to
provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavors to reduce
suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and
universal humanitarian principles. For more information on the ICRC,
please check our website.
Prof Mahinda Deegalle
Bath Spa University
Bath BA2 9BN