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Nigeria: focus on international humanitarian law in West Africa

21-02-2012 News Release 12/34

Abuja (ICRC) – A seminar on international humanitarian law, the 10th in a series of annual events, opened in Abuja today.

Twenty-five experts from the governments of 15 member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are taking part in the three-day seminar, jointly organized by the ECOWAS Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"We have enjoyed 10 fruitful years of cooperation with the ICRC with the aim of ensuring that the implementation of international humanitarian law takes root within the region," said Dr Adrienne Diop, the ECOWAS commissioner for human development and gender. "Our interest in working together with the ICRC stems from our commitment to the protection and welfare of all persons within the ECOWAS space. Clearly, respect for the laws of war is of critical importance in bringing into being a realm of security and protection for all West Africans, in line with the aims of ECOWAS."

In addition to exploring topics relating to development of international humanitarian law, the seminar provides an opportunity for ECOWAS member States to share their experiences in terms of incorporating the provisions of various instruments of that body of law in domestic legislation. The participants will also be briefed on issues pertaining to access to health care, and protection for medical staff providing it, in situations of armed conflict and other violence.

The seminar was formally inaugurated by Mohammed Bello Adoke, Nigeria's attorney-general and justice minister.

"Civilians in the region have suffered from armed conflicts in the past, and continue to be affected by outbreaks of violence," said Zoran Jovanovic, the head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria. "In view of this, ECOWAS member States should, as a matter of priority, include provisions of international humanitarian law and other relevant instruments in their national legislation. The ICRC stands ready to support the member States in this endeavour."

For further information, please contact:
Sunny Ugoh, ECOWAS, tel: +234 9 314 76 41 or +234 803 659 12 65
Rafiullah Qureshi, ICRC Abuja, tel: +234 9 461 96 13 or +234 703 595 41 68