Seminar urges effective coordination of international humanitarian law in West Africa
1 March 2012 [Abuja - Nigeria]
Participants at the 10th annual ECOWAS, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) seminar have called on West African countries to appoint focal points in the relevant ministries and agencies for the effective coordination and implementation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the region.
The three-day seminar, which ended 23rd February 2012, also urged Member States to implement the ECOWAS Plan of Action on humanitarian affairs.
The meeting which was held under the theme: International Humanitarian Law in West Africa, 2001 – 2011: Gains, Challenges and Contemporary Issues, recommended that ECOWAS Member States should sign and ratify the African Union Convention on Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, also known as the Kampala Convention, as a matter of urgency and consider its full implementation.
Member States implementing the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols I and II and/or the Rome Statute, should also adopt an integrated and inclusive approach for a comprehensive review of their obligations under the IHL, the participants added.
In her remarks, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop said: “We remain confident with the continued collaboration of the ICRC and all other partners.” She also expressed the optimism that the Commission will realize its objectives in the implementation of International Humanitarian Law.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, highlighted the importance of International Humanitarian Law in West Africa, and the relevance of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, especially in the aftermath of political unrest in North Africa.
The Minister, represented by Mrs. Ifeyinwa Rita Njokanma, underscored the importance of the seminar, as a platform for improving diplomatic relations between West African States and the rest of the world.
Mr. Zoran Jovanovic, Head of the ICRC Delegation, reaffirmed his organization’s commitment to the implementation of the IHL.
Topics discussed at the meeting included: Gains and Challenges of the ECOWAS-ICRC collaboration, the Challenge of Improving Compliance with International Humanitarian Law, and the Legal Remedies and upcoming developments in humanitarian action.