Reducing Suffering During Armed Conflict: The Interface Between Buddhism and International Humanitarian Law 

Despite the prevalence of armed conflict in parts of the Buddhist world, few contemporary studies have addressed the ways in which Buddhism can contribute to regulating conduct of hostilities and reducing suffering during armed conflict. While there is a wealth of material on Buddhist conflict prevention and resolution, remarkably little attention has been paid to what Buddhism says about the actual conduct of war. IHL is also still relatively little known in the Buddhist world, and might not therefore influence the behavior of belligerents who self-identify as Buddhists and are perhaps more likely to be guided by Buddhist principles. 

It was for these reasons that in 2017 the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose mandate is to assist and protect victims of armed conflict and to promote respect for IHL, launched a project on Buddhism and IHL. Having reached out to Buddhist clergy, scholars, legal experts, and military and humanitarian actors around the world, the first phase of the project culminated in an international conference titled ‘Reducing Suffering During Armed Conflict: The Interface Between Buddhism and International Humanitarian Law’ in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, in 2019 and again another gathering in Chang Mai, Thailand in 2022. 

RYI faculty, Diane Denis presented a paper at each of these conferences. The first examined the interface of the Dharmadharmatāvibhāga with IHL and was published in 2022. You can read the full article here.  

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