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Egypt: Arab parliamentarians seek better implementation of international humanitarian law

07-05-2010 Event

A major conference of Arab members of parliament on the implementation of international humanitarian law took place in Cairo, Egypt, from 4 to 6 May. The conference was organized by the ICRC in cooperation with the Egyptian People's Assembly and the Arab Parliamentary Union (APU).

Event Info

Where: Geneva

When: 04.05.2010-06.05.2010

  ©ICRC/M. Sultan    
From left to right: Nour El-din Boushkoj, Secretary General of Arab Parliamentary Union, Ahmed Fathi Sorour, President of People's Assembly in Egypt and Klaus Spreyermann, HoD Cairo.    

" This is a significant step towards reinforcing respect for civilians and those working to assist them, " said Klaus Spreyermann, the ICRC's head of delegation in Cairo. " Arab members of parliament participating in the conference showed that they are determined to preserve human dignity by ensuring that national laws are adapted to take into account provisions of international humanitarian law. "

Forty representatives from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia took part in the event.

The aim was to coordinate the efforts of the APU and the ICRC to help Arab parliaments implement international humanitarian law by setting up a regional plan of action.

Three main sets of recommendations emerged from the event. The first emphasized the need to coordinate the review of national legislation to ensure that it reflects provisions of international humanitarian law on war crimes, the red crescent and other emblems, cultural property and missing persons. It is also necessary to ensure that endorsing treaties of international humanitarian law is consistent with national legislation and to propose a ratification mechanism in line with the national interests of each country. Participants called upon the APU, in cooperation with the ICRC, to set out a comprehensive approach to adhering to the treaties and to implementing them at national level.

Another set of recommendations urged Arab parliaments to spread knowledge of international humanitarian law among their members and staff and to take steps to promote it among the general public.

It was al so recommended that a committee be formed by the APU and the ICRC to follow up these issues. In parallel, national parliamentary working groups should be formed in each country to follow up implementation of the plan of action and to encourage the exchange of information between the countries. Finally, the participants recommended that documentation centres be set up to facilitate research in the field of international humanitarian law.