Port Moresby (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has commended the Papua New Guinea Government for establishing a National International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Committee, which held its inaugural meeting today.
"This is a fantastic development," said ICRC Pacific Regional Legal Advisor Netta Goussac. "IHL is crucial to limiting suffering during war and we are delighted the government is taking steps to strengthen its promotion and implementation in PNG."
The objective of IHL is to restrict the conduct of warfare in order to protect civilians and those no longer participating directly in hostilities.
Papua New Guinea is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions, the series of international treaties that contain the main rules regulating the conduct of warfare.
The new committee will be tasked with examining whether PNG should ratify and implement more international treaties that seek to limits the effects of conflict, such as the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions.
Secretary of the Department of Justice and Attorney General, Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, who spearheaded the formation of the committee and chaired its inaugural meeting, said that although PNG was not at war the country still needed put such laws in place.
"We send our soldiers to international peacekeeping missions so it is important that we implement these principles," he said.
The inaugural meeting was attended by several government organisations including the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, the Department of Community Development, and the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs.
It was also attended by representatives of the PNG Red Cross Society, which is mandated to promote IHL within PNG, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the body that works for the faithful application of IHL on a global basis.
Ms Goussac said the ICRC was convinced that a clear framework of rules at the international level, accompanied by corresponding rules, policies and enforcement at the national level, saved lives and reduced suffering during armed conflict.
"That is why we commend the government on the creation of a National IHL Committee in PNG and are keen to share our experience about what such a body can accomplish," she said.
For further information, please contact:
Dan Waites, ICRC Port Moresby, tel. +675 708 80 624