Addis Ababa: ICRC president urges more respect of IHL by AU member states for effective “Silencing the guns in Africa by 2020”

20 January 2020
Addis Ababa: ICRC president urges more respect of IHL by AU member states for effective “Silencing the guns in Africa by 2020”

Addis Ababa (ICRC) – President Peter Maurer of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) left Addis Ababa today at the end of a visit to Ethiopia, during which he had talks with the highest authorities, including H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and addressed the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), and the African Union Partners Group (AUPG).

"The visit was an opportunity to pursue our dialogue with Ethiopian authorities as well as with the Africa Union (AU) and its specialized organs and partners, on how to better respond to humanitarian challenges in Ethiopia and on the continent, and to strengthen respect of international humanitarian law (IHL)," said Maurer. "IHL compliance and support are amongst cornerstones of global governance to which Africa Union is engaged. Not only can IHL contribute to stabilization, it can also contribute to development. With its long-lasting humanitarian experience and its expertise in IHL, the ICRC can make a unique contribution to AU's regional and global governance endeavor," he added.

Addressing the AU Peace and Security Council, President Maurer welcomed the AU theme for 2020: Silencing the Guns in Africa: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development and reaffirmed ICRC readiness to contribute to the campaign, including through supporting the AU's advocacy to promote ratification and implementation of arms treaties.

"Ratification and implementation of arms treaties by AU member states is key to Silencing the guns on the continent. So is the imperative to address root causes of conflict," he said. "The ICRC considers that respect of international humanitarian law (IHL) is an integral part of the 'Silencing the guns' agenda.

Maurer thanked the AU for the regular and substantive strategic dialogue both institutions have been able to develop, both on humanitarian affairs and IHL, the best tool for reducing the impact of armed conflicts on the lives of ordinary people.

"It is in mutual interest of the AU and the ICRC to enhance their dialogue and cooperation on humanitarian issues, in order to address specific needs of people affected by violence. Humanitarian work should be given high importance and be considered an integral part of the AU ambitions," he concluded.

Established in 1863, the ICRC is an independent and neutral humanitarian organization operating in more than 80 countries around the world, mandated to help people affected by conflict and other situations of violence and promote IHL or the laws that protect victims of war. The ICRC delegation to the AU came into being, following the cooperation agreement signed between the Organization of African Unity in 1092. The ICRC has an observer status to the AU.

For further information, please contact:
Yohamin Teshome – Humanitarian Affairs Advisor - +251 922 56 67 03 – tyohamin@icrc.org