Please tell us about yourself
I work as a Legal Advisor in the protection department of the ICRC’s regional office in Delhi. I mainly work on issues related to the detention and protection of civilian populations in India, applying both national and international legal frameworks.
What are your principle tasks on a day-to-day basis?
One of my main tasks is to work on the clarification of the legal framework for detention activities. Another task of mine is to monitor protection issues related to situations of violence, arrest, extrajudicial killings, detention, torture and other kinds of violence against civilians. In this endeavor I work with criminal and special legislation at the national level, and with International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law at the international level.
What was your first professional experience in humanitarian assistance or protection?
My first engagement with humanitarian affairs was my work with the UNHCR in Delhi. Later, I did a Master’s degree in Human Rights Law at the University of Essex and worked with different humanitarian organizations after that. One of the organizations I worked for was the International Commission of Jurists; I was a member of the Asia Pacific team – focusing on Nepal and Sri Lanka – and also worked on the South Asia Project. Before I had taken up this assignment, I had worked as a research associate at the Human Rights Center in Essex on juridical issues.
What do you love about your work, what keeps you inspired?
What I like about this work is that it puts me in the position to provide input on policy-making and legal frameworks, which may finally improve the impact they have on the situations of civilians. This is not an academic type of work, it is very operational: I respond to very specific queries from the field and directly apply the law.
What has been the most important or memorable experience in your professional life and why?
An important experience was my work in humanitarian advocacy in Nepal, where I was trying to influence the development of legislation. It was a great experience to be part of this process, because I was in a position where I could provide concrete input on the coherence of national law with international legal standards.
What do you experience as a professional challenge?
The implementation and enforcement of law. In South Asia there are many fields in which good laws already exist but where the implementation and enforcement of those rules is difficult. Especially in conflict situations, there is an overall tendency towards impunity, and even if there is a well-developed law, it often does not stop the violations from happening. Which book currently travels with you? The Geneva Conventions – ‘The Law of Armed Conflict’ always accompany me (!); and at the moment I am also reading a book by Anuradha Chenoy on Maoist and other armed conflicts in India, a sociological study.
Please give a short description of PHAP.
Actually, I am just in the process of discovering PHAP; I just recently joined the association in the context of a training on IHL. I understand that PHAP is an initiative that helps professionals to orientate themselves in regard to the current humanitarian discourse and to keep up with the developments in International Humanitarian Law. My very positive experience is that these trainings and workshops are not ‘just another conference,’ but that they actually manage to bridge the gap between theory of humanitarian action and the operational experience.