International Committee of Military Medicine

International Committee of Military Medicine (ICMM)
Established 21 July 1921
Headquarters Brussels, Belgium
Major General (MD) (ret.) Roger VAN HOOF

The International Committee of Military Medicine (ICMM) is an international and intergovernmental organization consisting of more than one hundred states. The ICMM was established in 1921, after World War I had revealed the lack of care provided to victims and the need to strengthen cooperation between the health services of the armed forces worldwide.


General Doctor Jules Voncken (Belgium), Co-Founder and Secretary General of the International Committee of Military Medicine from 1921 until 1975

In 1920, after World War I had revealed the lack of cares given to the victims and the importance of the need for closer cooperation between Armed Forces Medical Services worldwide, Captain William S. Bainbridge, MD (US Navy) and Commander Medical Officer Jules Voncken (Belgium) suggested the creation of an international organisation of the Armed Forces Medical Services at the 28th session of the US Military Medical Officers Association (AMSUS). The Belgian Government actively supported the practical development of this concept and the first International Congress of Military Medicine and Pharmacy was held in July 1921 in Brussels, Belgium, in presence of HM King Albert I. It resulted in a permanent Committee of International Congresses of Military Medicine and Pharmacy (ICMPM) being officially founded on 21 July 1921 during the Congress. The founding countries were Belgium, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

First International Assembly of Medical Services of the Armies, Navies and Air Forces, July 1921, Belgium

Since, ICMPM has always gathered, in uniform, Health Services stemmed from all political blocs, even during the worst period of the Cold War. On 21 May 1952, an agreement of cooperation was signed with the World Health Organization (WHO) who recognised the Committee as an “international body specialised in medico-military matters”. On 28 April 1990, the Committee changed its name and became the International Committee of Military Medicine (ICMM). New ICMM Statutes, revised in line with modern-day policies, were voted in at the General Assembly held in Beijing, China, in 1996. ICMM signed a memorandum of understanding with World Health Organization in 2004 and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in 2006.

Objectives of ICMM

The main objective of the ICMM is to ensure that our medical services personnel have the means to work together, using similar practices, in operations involving international cooperation. This is a long-term goal, and the ICMM can work towards achieving this in a number of ways: by encouraging activities at which scientific and technical experience is shared, by developing contacts with the scientific community, by promoting regional events. This will enable us to pool our resources and work experience of military medicine, both in the theatre of operations and in a support role in the case of crisis situations.

Other ICMM objectives include: – to maintain and strengthen relations between Medical Services of Member States – to promote scientific military medical activities – to provide where necessary best practices and standards which Member States can aim for – to help to develop medical and military medical recommendations for humanitarian operations – these could range from Armed Forces humanitarian interventions to peacekeeping operations – to facilitate relations between Armed Forces Medical Services of ICMM Member States and international organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), or International Military Sports Council (IMSC),…

The above objectives are of interest to all sectors of military medicine in the wider sense, i.e. :


Scientific ICMM showcase, the International Review of the Armed Forces Medical Services is the material link between Medical Services and Member States. Several copies are sent for free to the delegates of each Member State and to other structures of the Medical Services. This link is strengthened with the ICMM official website, where all information about ICMM’s activities, structures and official working documents are updated.

Study of Training and Coaching

In this field the ICMM objectives are:

Assessment of disaster situations

The ICMM promotes discussions on the Medical Services activity during natural or technological main disasters.

Cooperation with international organizations

The ICMM has signed agreements with WHO, ICRC, OIE, UNAIDS and CISM. These agreements provide for cooperation with medical services of our Member States in order to detect and respond to major epidemics posing a global threat to public health. WHO, ICRC, OIE, UNAIDS and CISM contact each government individually. We are also discussing draft agreements with other international organizations.

Study of International Humanitarian Law evolution

Structure and Working of ICMM

The ICMM is a neutral and non political international intergovernmental organization.

Actually, ICMM is made up of 110 Member States and 5 observer States, all of which are either members of the United Nations (UN), have the status of official observers with in the UN or are recognised as members of WHO. Each Member State is represented by an official delegate who is appointed by the government of his country. Each Member State brought a request issued from the Ministry of Defense or the Foreign Affairs or one of the State high authority, willing to be a member of ICMM and its statutes. This request is addressed to the Secretary-General and then approved during a session of the General Assembly of the Member States during the World Congress every two years. Each Member State pays one’s subscription regarding its importance (GDP, Debt level, Population). This subscription gives the State the right to vote in the General Assembly and to organize activities acknowledged by the ICMM. Only a moral duty of active participation follows the membership of Member States. General Assemblies recommendations are always non restrictive and strictly observe each Member State sovereignty principle. Only the political power of each Member State can change ICMM recommendations into decisions applicable to its own Armed Forces. In accordance with ICMM’s statutes and history, Belgium is the seat of the Secretariat General, the executive branch of ICMM. The stability of the headquarters is a condition of continuity, avoiding exaggerated costs of working. On the same way, it is important to notice that all the responsible persons here following are unpaid and volunteer, except a few paid executive secretaries. The Secretary-General is elected by the General Assembly for a 4-years renewable mandate. He is at the head of the ICMM executive branch. The actual Secretary-General is Major General (MD) (ret.) Roger VAN HOOF, assisted by his Deputy Secretary-General, Colonel (MD) Pierre NEIRINCKX and a few assistants. They represent the political body of the Secretariat General. The Secretary-General and his Deputy are Belgians, according with the statutes of ICMM. The Secretary-General executes the decisions of the General Assembly. The General Assembly holds its session every two years during the World Congresses, and is led by the Chairman of ICMM. This one is related to the Member State that organizes the World Congress. He is at the head of the ICMM legislative branch by supervising the General Assembly’s work during the World Congress in his country. His mandate, not renewable, runs for the duration between two General Assemblies. The Secretary-General reports to him his executive activities. The last World Congress was held in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in December 2013. The actual Chairman of ICMM is Major General Dr. (MD) S. Mohammed AL-ASMARY. (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). All scientific matters are controlled by the Scientific Council, directed by the Chairman of the Scientific Council, Major General Prof. Marc MORILLON, MD. He is elected by the General Assembly for a 4- years renewable mandate. He is assisted by the Deputy Chairman of the Scientific Council, Colonel Prof. Gaétan THIERY, MD, also elected by the General Assembly for a 4- years renewable mandate. To help the Scientific Council, there are Technical Commissions in following specialities: Veterinarian, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Logistics and Education. Their Chairmen are also elected by the General Assembly for a 4-years renewable mandate.


The past years, ICMM had to face many challenges: The need to stay in close contact with all the parts of the World, preparing between two World Congresses the matters that will be discussed in the General Assembly where the decisions are taken. The demand of organizing courses and scientific activities on regional base, and to decentralize international courses, such as the International Course on Humanitarian Law. The need to educate the basic medical personals and not only to inform the top levels of the Medical Services. The need to specialize the medical personals in specific regional situations they can meet in operation everywhere in the world. The need for the basic medical personals to share their practical and scientific experiences and to know for advance the international partners they will work with in operation. So ICMM has included in its statutes the principle of an International Working Group (IWG) and of Regional Working Groups (RWG), and created a Commission for Education. The composition of the IWG is being decided during the General Assembly and helps the Secretary-General to prepare the matters and the decisions the General Assembly will discuss and take in its next session. The Delegates of the Member States of the IWG are the link between the Secretary-General and all the Member States in the period between two World Congresses. A RWG can be created by different Member States which want to share their experiences and problems on a regional base. The RWG is accredited by the General Assembly. Actually, the Pan American Regional Working Group, the Pan African Regional Working Group, the Maghreb Regional Working Group and the Pan Arab Working Group are active and organize Regional Congresses and Courses, between two World Congresses. During the Regional Congress, there is a meeting of the Delegates of the Member States of the RWG, in order to ensure the continuity of working. But this “Regional Assembly” has no legislative power such as the “General Assembly” of ICMM. The Secretary-General stays in close contact with the Chairman of the RWG and the Chairman of the Scientific Council can help for all scientific aspects of the Regional Congress. The Technical Commission for Education depends on the Chairman of the Scientific Council, and helps him to ensure the quality of the courses that can be decentralized in the zone of the RWG. The Chairman of the Scientific Council is also in contact with the Coordinators who organize the Courses, and the Secretary-General is in touch with the Directors of International Courses, who are generally Heads of Armed Forces Medical Services of Member States organizing an international course in their country. The good working of the IWG, the RWG and the Courses are big challenges for ICMM in the next years. The working of World and Regional Congresses and Courses are regulated by official documents as Regulations of Internal Order (RIO), which are voted by the General Assembly, and by Practical Guides. All those documents can be found on the website of ICMM.

The 41st World Congress on Military Medicine will be hosted by Indonesia, in Bali, in May 2015.

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