Joint statement by Republic of South Africa and ICRC on 18th regional IHL seminar

Government representatives from 14 Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Island States, gathered in Pretoria, South Africa, from 4 to 7 September 2018 for the 18th edition of the Annual Regional Seminar on the implementation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) co-hosted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The seminar was held under the theme "Regional contributions to the implementation and development of IHL."

The 2018 edition of the Seminar brought together Government representatives from Angola, Botswana, Comoros, eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Also in attendance were representatives from Nigeria as a guest-participating country, the Pan-African Parliament, the African Union Commission, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Ethiopia Red Cross Society.

Participants reflected on the current status of implementation and compliance with IHL in the region, and on the important role of regional platforms in contributing to the implementation and development of IHL at the global level. Convening in expert groups and panel discussions, the representatives explored how to strengthen adherence to and implementation of IHL in eastern and southern Africa. Participants further considered the implementation of pledges and commitments made including, undertaking effective policy and legislation to implement the pledges and commitments; measures taken to accede to and domesticate IHL instruments; as well as how States in the region can collaborate to enhance public awareness of and support for IHL, including through the effective utilisation of the media as a tool.

Furthermore, participants reaffirmed their commitment to existing international laws and norms governing the protection of persons and property in times of armed conflict. They also pledged to identify domestic, regional and continental approaches that could be utilised to realise the full implementation and enforcement of these obligations.