ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes Equatorial Guinea’s accession this week to the Kampala Convention on internally displaced people (IDPs), becoming the 29th African Union (AU) member state to do so.
Equatorial Guinea joined South Sudan as the second country to accede this year to the important treaty, which is formally known as the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.
The move by Equatorial Guinea is particularly opportune as the Kampala Convention is marking its 10th anniversary this year with activities organized by the AU with support from UNHCR and other partners.
In addition, the AU theme of 2019 is on finding solutions to forced displacement in Africa. Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is the official AU champion of the theme and has addressed his role with enthusiasm and commitment.
“This is excellent news and we hope it will spur other AU member states to follow the examples of Equatorial Guinea and South Sudan before the end of the year, helping to make the 2019 theme activity even more successful,” said Cosmas Chanda, UNHCR’s representative to the AU.
Equatorial Guinea deposited its instrument of ratification of the Kampala Convention on Tuesday at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With this development, 29 of the AU’s 55 member states have now acceded to the Kampala Convention.
UNHCR has been working with the African Union Commission, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs and partners to advocate for ratification of the Kampala Convention and the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention, which is commemorating its 50th anniversary.
The Kampala Convention is the world’s first and only regional legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of IDPs, who often face heightened risks, violations and sexual violence because of their displacement, while they struggle to access their rights and basic protection. They often remain in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
Accession to the Kampala Convention is an affirmation by states of their primary responsibility to protect, assist and provide solutions for IDPs. The Convention also calls for national and regional actions to prevent arbitrary displacement, to ensure IDPs are protected and assisted, and to support durable solutions.
To give effect to the provisions of the Convention, countries that accede may need to take further steps for its implementation by passing national legislation.
UNHCR, which supported the African Union, including through the process of drafting the Convention, supports governments in ensuring its incorporation into domestic law.
Globally, 41 million people remain displaced inside their own countries as a result of armed conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations. To address internal displacement across Africa and to provide a legal framework for the protection and assistance of IDPs, the Kampala Convention was adopted at a meeting of the AU in October 2009.
The AU is one of UNHCR’s most important partners and a leader in global efforts to resolve forced displacement. Under its watch, landmark treaties on refugees and on internal displacement have been adopted to help millions in Africa and beyond.
A series of events are being organized to commemorate the anniversaries of the two Conventions and promote the AU theme for 2019.
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