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Cameroon: legal experts from 13 countries enhance their knowledgeof international humanitarian law

08-10-2010 News Release 10/181

Yaoundé (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will hold a panel discussion of customary international humanitarian law on 12 and 13 October in Douala, Cameroon.

Experts from academia and senior officials from the defence, foreign and justice ministries of 13 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Comoros, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo) will take part.

" Most armed conflicts now taking place are non-international. In these situations, customary international humanitarian law supplements treaty-based law, " said Jean-Jacques Tshamala, head of the ICRC's regional delegation for Central Africa. " We hope the panel discussion will enable the participants to deepen their knowledge of this subject, and result in better protection for armed-conflict victims. "

This is the first time that such an event has been organized in sub-Saharan French-speaking Africa. The topics that will be covered, with the help of ICRC and outside experts, include issues relating to the conduct of hostilities in non-international armed conflict, and to the protection of displaced people.

" This event is only one step on a long journey, " said Mr Tshamala. " Making the rules of customary and treaty-based international humanitarian law better known is important, but it is not enough. For the ICRC, the ultimate objective is for the rules to be better obeyed – as they must be by States and indeed any belligerent. "

The ICRC has been carrying out research on customary international humanitarian law and promoting compliance with it for many years. In 2005, it published an exhaustive study identifying 161 customary rules providing legal protection for peo ple affected by war. Since earlier this year, a regularly updated and expanded database has been available at no charge on the ICRC website . Panelists at the Douala event will be invited to contribute to the 2011 update.  
For further information, please contact:
  Vincent Pouget, ICRC Yaoundé, tel: +237 99 41 59 45 or +237 99 41 65 79
  Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17