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Egypt: Implementing the law

27-01-2000 News Release 00/02

A committee has been formed to advise the Egyptian government on ways of implementing international humanitarian law and making its rules better known. The committee was created under a decree issued by the Prime Minister on 23 January 2000. It will comprise officials from the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Defence, the Interior, and Higher Education. The Egyptian Red Crescent Society and the ICRC's Cairo delegation will also be represented.

The Geneva Conventions, their two Additional Protocols and the other international treaties that make up humanitarian law contain measures intended to prevent unnecessary suffering and to safeguard human dignity in wartime. The committee will look into ways of spreading knowledge of these provisions and enhancing their implementation. It will also suggest means of improving training for those whose task it is to promote the law and facilitating the exchange of information among organizations involved in that effort.

The Ministry of Justice will provide financial, technical and secretarial support to the committee and follow up its recommendations. The ministry will also set up a documentation and information unit to compile legislation and regulations – both local and foreign – relating to this body of law.

The committee's creation represents a major step toward anchoring humanitarian law in Egyptian legislation and raising awareness of its provisions among both government officials and the general public. It is the fruit of close cooperation between the ICRC, the Egyptian Red Crescent and the Ministry of Justice which led to the holding of an Arab regional conference in November to mark the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. The " Cairo Declaration " issued by that conference recommended that national committees be set up in Arab countries to promote awareness of and respect for international humanitarian law.