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West Africa: States review implementation of international humanitarian law

18-09-2013 News Release 13/155

Abuja (ICRC) – A seminar on the implementation status of treaties of international humanitarian law in the national legislation of West African States opens today in Abuja, Nigeria.

Organized jointly by the commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the three-day seminar brings together representatives of 15 West African States to review the progress made and challenges faced in implementing instruments of international humanitarian law ratified by their countries.

"Through our annual seminar, organized together with the ICRC, ECOWAS aims to encourage exchange among West African States and strengthen their procedures for implementing humanitarian law treaties in the region," said Dr Adrienne Diop, ECOWAS commissioner for human development and gender. "This year we will also look at the issue of non-State armed groups and their compliance with international humanitarian law."

The ICRC and ECOWAS have been cooperating closely on implementation of international humanitarian law and on enhancing respect for its rules in West Africa since 2002.

"Too often, civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed violence. As the guardian and promoter of international humanitarian law, the ICRC encourages discussion to better protect civilians amid armed conflict or other violence," said Yasmine Praz-Dessimoz, the ICRC's head of operations for North and West Africa.

Besides the sharing of experiences and good practices, this 11th annual seminar provides an opportunity for the representatives of ECOWAS States to learn about recent developments in international humanitarian law.

International humanitarian law is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare. The main treaties of international humanitarian law are the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their three Additional Protocols.

For further information, please contact:
Aleksandra Matijevic Mosimann, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 9 461 96 13 or +234 703 595 41 68
Wolde-Gabriel Saugeron, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 31 49 or +41 79 244 64 05