Humanitarian Forensic Action

Humanitarian Forensic Action

Course provider
International Committee of the Red Cross
Course dates
11-14th December 2023
Course length
4 Days
Course fee

The 4-day Humanitarian Forensic Action course, designed and delivered by the Forensic Unit of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), will provide participants with an overview of humanitarian forensic action globally, through the description of recent and ongoing programs and responses by leveraging on the experience of the ICRC's Forensic Unit. The aim of the training is to provide participants an understanding of how forensic science can respond to humanitarian needs of populations during and after conflict, disaster and other situations of violence, and to equip them with an effective technical toolkit as well as to strengthen the conceptual, technical and interpersonal skills required by forensic experts to effectively navigate in the humanitarian context. 


    Module 1 - Introduction to Humanitarian Forensic Action 

    • Pre-course assessment questionnaire 
    • History of Humanitarian Forensic Action 

    Module 2 - The ICRC and the Forensic Unit

    • History of ICRC
    • History of ICRC's Forensic Unit

    Module 3 - Legal Framework and MLDI

    • Main legal frameworks
    • International Humanitarian Law
    • Medico-legal and death investigation systems
    • Assessing systems and understanding contexts
    • ICRC Briefing Note "humanity after life"

    Module 4 - Principles of Managing the Dead in Emergencies

    • Main steps in management of the dead (MotD)

    Module 5 - Managing the Dead in Emergencies, Examples

    • Challenges in MotD
    • Basics of coordination and preparedness
    • Analysis of mass fatality plans: Indian government guidelines (2010), Sri Lanka guidelines (2016), London plan 

    Module 6 - Working on Missing Caseloads

    • Specificities of missing caseloads
    • 3 examples of operations (DPAA, Falklands/Malvinas, CMP)

    Module 7 - Search of the Missing and Dead

    • Investigation
    • Standard
    • Emergency search
    • Job aid example
    • Satellite imagery exercise


    Module 8 - Recovery Operations

    • Emergency recovery
    • The site
    • Forensic archaeology 
    • Bournemouth mass grave project report (2021)
    • Weapon contaminated areas
    • Reading and extracting information: TNMA guidelines (2013)

    Module 9 - Migration

    • Migration forensics and the mediterranean MotD at sea

    Module 10 - Data Management

    • Collection of unidentified persons data
    • Collection of missing person data
    • Examples of different operations with different data usage
    • Data management systems (AMPM, Resolve, and others)
    • Comparison of data
    • Data protection and humanitarian operations
    • Transmissibility and sharing
    • INTERPOL guidelines

    Module 11 - Transport, Storage and Disposition

    • Transport
    • Storage
    • Temporary burials
    • Disposition
    • Repatriation
    • Cemeteries 
    • ICRC (2020) cemetery planning, preparation and management during COVID-19: a quick guide to proper documentation and disposition of the dead

    Module 12 - Identification Process

    • Application of forensic sciences to humanitarian contexts
    • Forensic anthropology and odontology - limits
    • Forensic genetics - particularities 
    • The multi-disciplinary approach
    • Scientific identification and legal identification
    • Commonest causes of misidentification and risk management in misidentification
    • OHCHR (2016) Minnesota protocol

    Module 13 - Communities and Families 

    • Inclusion of families in the process
    • Psychological support in specific moments
    • Islamic law and MotD
    • AAP and community engagement 
    • Examples through COVID-19 communication material 
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