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South Sudan: world's newest country signs up to the Geneva Conventions

19-07-2012 News Release 12/154

Juba/Geneva (ICRC) – The Republic of South Sudan has acceded to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, after a bill was passed by the National Legislative Assembly on Monday 16 July.

All the countries in the world have now signed the 1949 Geneva Conventions, making the treaties truly universal.

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are the core of international humanitarian law, setting out rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. These rules protect persons not, or no longer, participating in hostilities, such as civilians, health workers and aid workers, wounded or sick soldiers, prisoners of war and other persons deprived of their liberty, and impose restrictions on the means and methods of warfare to which parties to conflict can resort.

"We are very pleased to learn that South Sudan has acceded to the Geneva Conventions. These rules which seek to protect human life and prevent needless suffering are now universal. The fact that all States have signed them puts that beyond doubt," said Melker Mabeck, head of the ICRC's delegation in Juba. "The Geneva Conventions must continue to be incorporated into the training and doctrine of South Sudan's army so they are known and complied with."

"This is an historic moment for South Sudan," said Dengtiel Ayuen Kuur, chairman of the Committee of Legislation and Justice of the National Legislative Assembly. "These laws restricting the means and methods of warfare must be adhered to if we are to forge a path towards peace and prosperity. Today we as a nation underline our commitment to the principles of humanity even in times of war."

The ICRC's permanent international mandate to protect and assist victims of armed conflict derives from the Geneva Conventions. The organization provided technical support and advice to the South Sudanese government during the accession process. The ICRC also conducts training and information sessions on international humanitarian law for South Sudan's army and armed groups present in South Sudan.

The ICRC's operations in southern Sudan began in 1986. The organization set up a delegation in South Sudan's capital, Juba, when the country became independent on 9 July 2011. The ICRC also has two sub-delegations in the new country, in Malakal and Wau. In South Sudan, the ICRC works to prevent violations of international humanitarian law and supports hospital and physical-rehabilitation services. It also helps conflict-affected communities to survive and become self-sufficient.

For further information, please contact:
Ewan Watson, ICRC Juba, tel: +211 912 178 946
Vassily Fadeev, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 34 53 or +41 79 536 92 48