Regional plan of action for the implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL) at the Arab level for the year 2006
Fifth regional meeting of Arab governmental experts on national implementation of international humanitarian law, Cairo, Egypt, 25-28 February 2006
Deeply concerned over persistent violations of IHL affecting civilian populations, in particular children and women, worldwide as, in particular, within the Arab World;
Recognizing that international humanitarian law sets forth appropriate provisions for preventing and alleviating human suffering in situations of armed conflict, the need to reinforce its provisions by achieving their universal acceptance and their widest possible dissemination and application, and the importance of developing it;
Recognizing the important part played by the national structures established in numerous countries for the application and dissemination of IHL in ensuring that the Geneva Conventions and, where applicable, the Additional Protocols thereto, as well as the other instruments of IHL are incorporated into the domestic law of states parties to those instruments, so as to ensure proper compliance with and wider knowledge of those instruments;
Renewing its satisfaction with the fruitful cooperation between the League of Arab States – and its states parties- and the ICRC, in particular in the framework of the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement of 15 November 1999;
Taking into consideration the efforts exerted by the follow-up commission for the implementation of International Humanitarian Law on the regional level composed of the Legal Department of the League of Arab States and the ICRC Advisory Service to follow up the implementation of regional plans of action adopted by Arab government experts during their four meetings held in Cairo in 7-9 May 2001, 28-30 October 2002, 17-19 February 2004, and 26-28 February 2005; those plans that contributed effectively upon their implementation in the realization of several achievements in the sphere of implementation of IHL, which underscores the keenness of Arab states to respect provisions of IHL and ensure its implementation;
Emphasizing their commitment with the regional plans of action and expressing their desire to reinforce continued Arab efforts to promote adherence to the provisions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL);
With a view to implementing the Declaration of the 28th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent on 6 December 2003 regarding the request made to States, “inter alia”, to uphold the implementation of IHL provisions and to ensure its respect;
Focusing on developments related to the implementation of IHL, which should be reflected by the Plan of Action at the Arab regional level;
Participants here present endorse the adoption of the following plan of action in line with the priorities set for the year 2006 as follows:
I. National structures concerned with the implementation of IHL provisions:
Welcoming achievements at the Arab level, through the establishment of national structures for the implementation of IHL in Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Libya and Tunisia, and the efforts made in this field by many Arab countries,
Participants recommend the following measures:
Appealing to Arab governments that have not yet established national structures for the implementation of IHL to do so, provided that their setup, competence and the necessary methods for the performance of their tasks are ensured.
Appealing to States having already established national commissions for IHL to intensify their support to these commissions and provide them with the necessary material, human and logistic resources to ensure they would achieve their purposes.
Emphasizing the importance of coordination among national structures within the Arab region, to exchange information and expertise among themselves and between them and the rest of the concerned authorities within Arab countries, and benefit from the communication network among national commissions set up by the ICRC.
Urging the ICRC Advisory Services to sustain its ongoing efforts to offer technical consultation for the establishment of national structures. Thus, these advisory services would be available to all Arab countries, through the arrangement of bilateral or regional meetings with governmental officials and national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies within Arab countries.
II- Adaptation of Arab legislation with IHL provisions & adherence to relevant international conventions:
In recognition of efforts undertaken by the Follow Up Committee for IHL at the Arab level, in view of implementing the previous plans of action, as well as constitutional and legal studies conducted at the level of regional coordination within the bounds of the Arab Commission of Experts, and the effective role of the United Arab Emirates in order to establish a n Arab Model Law regarding international crimes and cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC), which was adopted by the Council of Arab Ministers in its twenty-first session held in Cairo on November 29th and 30th 2005,
Implementing recommendations of the Second Arab Seminar on the Legislative Aspects of the Implementation of IHL, held in Rabat on 2-5 December 2004, and
Conforming with the plan of action issued by Arab parliamentarians on the necessary legislative measures to implement IHL conventions at the national level, adopted during their meeting in Damascus on 20-22 November 2005,
Participants recommend the following measures:
Coordinating efforts to revise national legislation already in force in Arab countries in such a way that they conform with international conventions relevant to IHL in the domains of repression of war crimes, protection of the emblem and of cultural property;
Urging Arab governments to study the suitability of adherence to international conventions relevant to IHL which they have not ratified yet;
Calling upon the Follow-up Commission for the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law at the regional level to conduct an integrated study on either the ratification of or the adherence to relevant international conventions of IHL and on how to apply them at the national level.
III- Dissemination of and training on IHL:
Taking into consideration the efforts undertaken at the regional level with the creation of a regional judiciary center in Kuwait and a regional center for diplomats in the United Arab Emirates, as well as the resolution of the Council of Arab Ministers of Justice in its nineteenth session held in Algiers to entrust the Center of L egal and Judiciary Studies in Beirut to organize two annual seminars for IHL, and efforts at the national level to disseminate IHL and training on its provisions in different Arab states;
Participants recommend the following measures:
Dissemination among government circles: continue efforts to incorporate IHL within training programs for judges, public prosecutors and members of military justice, following efforts in the same vein exerted in many Arab countries; incorporation of IHL in training programs for police officers of various specializations; attempt to reach full knowledge of provisions of this law among diplomatic circles, either through fundamental courses for new diplomats or refreshment courses for members of the diplomatic corps; preparation of IHL dissemination programs for parliamentarians to facilitate the approval and suggestion of draft laws relevant to IHL.
Incorporation of IHL within military training programs : issuance of a formal order at the national level imposing the relevant teaching of IHL and the training on its application at every level of the armed forces; incorporation of IHL within training programs for legal advisors in various sectors and units of the military forces; incorporation of IHL programs within training programs of the military forces following the example of several Arab countries and what the Egyptian Defense Ministry had presented.
Incorporation of IHL within university curricula : commitment of Arab States Party to the Geneva Conventions and the Two Additional Protocols to teach IHL provisions and incorporate it within curricula of relevant faculties, particularly faculties of law, political science and mass communication;
Call upon Arab countries to incorporate fundamental concepts of IHL within various school educational programs in order to educate the youth about the respect of provisions of this law, following the steps already taken in many Arab countries, so that teaching IHL would become part and parcel of educational programs, and thus ensure the consolidation of efforts aiming at disseminating provisions of this law, and raising awareness thereof at the widest scope possible;
Arab countries are urged to incorporate the fundamental concepts of IHL with various educational programs for students in schools, to teach children to respect provisions of this law.
Support of efforts of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Arab region : in recognition of the pioneering role that National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are playing in the sphere of IHL dissemination among various groups of society, according to the Statutes of the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, participants support those societies in their continuous effort to raise awareness of IHL provisions.
IV- Regional cooperation:
Having realized the role played by the follow-up commission for the implementation of International Humanitarian Law on the regional level composed of the Legal Department of the League of Arab States and the ICRC Advisory Services in observing the implementation of the regional plans of action, through the preparation of the Third Arab Report on the situation of IHL implementation , and the organization of the fifth meeting of experts, as well as field visits, such as those undertaken in Morocco and Lebanon,
Participants recommend the following measures to the follow-up commission:
Continue to compile data on the implementation of IHL at the regional level, and on legislative and practical measures to facilitate exchange of information and documentation between various Arab countries.
Support efforts of regional institutes established for magistrates and diplomats, and efforts of the Arab Center in Beirut in carrying out their role in the field of dissemination of IHL and training on its provisions.
Endeavor to issue the Fourth Arab Report on the Situation of the Implementation of IHL; and continue to issue it annually to allow the exchange of information and documentation regarding the implementation of provisions of this law in all Arab countries;
Proceed with field visits undertaken by the commission members to different Arab countries, upon their request, to support technical consultation and exchange views over the implementation of IHL.