South Africa: Annual regional seminar on international humanitarian law

Joint statement by the Republic of South Africa and the International Committee of the Red Cross on the occasion of the 17th Annual regional seminar on international humanitarian law

State representatives from 17 African countries gathered in Pretoria, South Africa from 5 to 8 September 2017 for the 17th Annual Regional Seminar on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) co-hosted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Government of South Africa and the ICRC. Participants reflected on the current status of implementation and compliance with IHL in the region, with a particular focus on this year's theme: the 40th anniversary of the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions.

In plenary meetings, the participants explored current challenges facing IHL worldwide, including the impact of the proliferation of armed non-state actors, the consequences of rapid advances of modern technology on the conduct of hostilities, as well as how to apply IHL during asymmetric warfare.
Convening in expert groups and panel discussions, the representatives explored how to strengthen adherence to and implementation of IHL in eastern and southern Africa. They considered existing regional best practices used to increase passage of domestic legislation related to IHL; strategies to enhance compliance with IHL; as well as how States in the region can collaborate to reaffirm their public support for the 1977 Additional Protocols and the principles of IHL that they enshrine.

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

The 2017 edition of the Seminar brought together government representatives from Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe as well as representatives from the Pan-African Parliament, African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Ethiopia Red Cross Society and the South African Red Cross Society.