African Union: 40th anniversary of Additional Protocols of the Geneva Conventions

Drafted for the first time with African states’ contribution

Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions have been drafted with contributions from the newly independent African States for the first time 40 years ago, in 1977. Keeping in mind the importance of this step for the continent, the ICRC delegation to the African States organized a panel discussion on 4 December 2017, inviting legal advisers from diplomatic representations of African States for a deliberation.

On the occasion, the ICRC urged States to ensure that the parties to conflict respect the fundamental rules and principles found in these instruments. It also expressed its wish to engage in a discussion about the practical relevance of these rules in today’s conflicts, keeping in mind the security challenges in the African continent.

The event aimed at presenting the contribution of the Additional Protocols of 1977 to international humanitarian law, and particularly, the contribution of the African States. The participants discussed the relevance of the Additional Protocols in the ongoing legal debates, for example around cyber warfare, urban warfare, use of nuclear weapons, and also the possibility of creating a platform to discuss the challenges in applying IHL in armed conflicts on the African continent.

The panel discussions consisted an introduction to the Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions, a presentation on how these had shaped military practices worldwide, and finally, a discussion on their relevance in contemporary conflicts.

The event was attended by legal advisers and defense attachés of not only African, but also non-African, diplomatic representations in Addis Ababa, legal adviser from the AU Peace and Security Department and representatives from NATO and EU.