Jake Kurtzer

jake kurtzer-sized.jpg

Jacob Kurtzer is currently working as a consultant in Pretoria, SA, advising organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and several South African think tanks. Previously, Jake served as the Head of Public and Congressional Affairs for the Washington Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), representing the ICRC to a broad spectrum of audiences in the United States and Canada, including the US Congress and leading civil society organizations.

Prior to joining the ICRC, Jake served as the Congressional Advocate at Refugees International (RI), a humanitarian advocacy organization based in Washington DC. In this capacity, Jake conducted extensive field missions to conflict areas assessing the humanitarian needs of displaced civilians and represented RI on Capitol Hill, advocating on behalf of refugees around the world. Previously, Jake worked as a legislative assistant to Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida covering domestic and foreign policy issues. 

Jake earned an M.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where he studied as a Rotary Foundation World Peace Fellow. He also holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a citation in religious studies, and is an alumnus of the College Park Scholars Public Leadership program.

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is the body of law that seeks to regulate conduct during situations of armed conflict. IHL, rooted in the Geneva Conventions, has evolved significantly since its original codification in Switzerland in the 19th Century. Today, however, IHL faces multiple challenges. One one side, the number and nature of actors in armed conflict has dramatically changed, with small non-state affiliated armed groups causing massive humanitarian suffering. On the other, technological changes pose a unique challenge to a system of law that seeks to govern human behavior. In this session, we will discuss both of these challenges, and move to a conversation about the efforts underway to ensure that basic standards and norms are adhered to in contemporary armed conflict. The session will look at the role non-government organizations like Rotary can play in the perpetuation of the ideals of the Geneva Conventions, in order to continue to minimize the humanitarian consequences of armed conflict.