South Africa: Annual Regional Seminar on IHL hosted in South Africa
Pretoria, 24 November 2022 – The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) jointly hosted the 21st Annual Regional Seminar on the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Island States from the 22nd to the 25th of November 2022.
Under the theme, International Humanitarian Law: An African perspective on contemporary global challenges, the Seminar delved into International Humanitarian Law and its application in the region, the value of National Committees on International Humanitarian Law and their status in the region, the current International Humanitarian Law priorities in the region and contemporary challenges to IHL from a continental perspective.
"This year's Seminar comes at a time when the world is faced with a multiplicity of contemporary challenges exacerbated by geopolitical dynamics and new conflicts. Humanitarian situations resulting from armed conflicts, climate change, food insecurity and growing displacement in a post covid world require enhanced efforts in all areas including the strengthening of and compliance to IHL and its effective application during both times of peace and times of war to ensure the alleviation of suffering of those directly impacted. Similarly, the rise in violent extremism and terrorism as well as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons destabilise communities, negatively impacts peace, security, stability and development in Africa,'' said Deputy Minister Alvin Botes during the Opening Session at the Seminar.
"This annual seminar offers an opportunity to the ICRC and parties to share experiences on recent developments in IHL and to reflect on the main challenges in the implementation and application of IHL in the context of southern Africa. It is always an honour, as ICRC, to exchange with all stakeholders gathered in Pretoria. This initiative, which started in 2001, has become one of the oldest and most interactive IHL interaction platforms in the world," said Jules Amoti, the Head of Regional Delegation, ICRC Pretoria.
The Seminar saw the participation of government representatives from Southern African countries as well as representation from East and West African States, the African Union, and the Southern African Development Community. Representatives from the following states are participating in the 21st edition of the Regional IHL Seminar: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, DRC, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The Regional Seminar provided States in the region with an annual opportunity to share lessons learnt, achievements and challenges on IHL at the peer-to-peer level, to be updated on recent developments in IHL as well as to concretely agree at the regional level on tangible outcomes and recommendations for the IHL moving forward.