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Costa Rica: National committees seek better protection for those affected by armed conflict

10-09-2013 News Release 13/148

Geneva / San José (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is today inaugurating the second conference of national committees for the implementation of international humanitarian law of the Americas, in San José, Costa Rica.

“The conference is a unique forum for regular dialogue between States, government experts and academics about international humanitarian law,” said Patrick Zahnd, the ICRC’s legal adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Ultimately, it’s about improving protection for people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence.  It’s a chance to take stock of achievements in ratifying, integrating and promoting treaties of international humanitarian law, and to explore the difficulties that some countries are facing in that regard. It’s also an excellent opportunity to analyse emerging challenges and issues for the humanitarian sector and to discuss legal cooperation with the ICRC,” concluded Zahnd.

The national committees will consider a number of other topics, including the humanitarian consequences of the use of certain weapons, the promotion of national standards on the use of force in the maintenance of law and order, the legal needs of the relatives of missing persons, the prosecution of war crimes and the protection of cultural property in armed conflict. They will also discuss their role in following up on the resolutions and pledges adopted at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, held in November 2011.

The conference, which runs until 12 September, is being held under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religion of Costa Rica, in association with the Costa Rican committee for the implementation of international humanitarian law, and with the support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.

Members of the national committees of the following countries are taking part in the conference: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Also participating are members of the national committees of Germany, Spain and Switzerland and, as observers, officials from Belize, Cuba, Haiti, Suriname, the United States of America, and Venezuela. They will be joined by representatives of the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Juridical Committee and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

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For further information, please contact:
Patrick Zahnd, ICRC Mexico, tel: +52 55 54 53 36 94
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 218 76 10; twitter: @AHeebICRC