AFRICA: AU, ICRC deliberate on protection of civilians in armed conflicts, violences in Africa
Laaska News Nov. 15,2011 AU/ICRC Seminar – protection of civilians
ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) — The African Union (AU) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday held their 11th edition of bi-annual seminar at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a theme on protection of civilians.
The day-long seminar has been held under the general theme “The Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence in Africa.”
The AU said as it is currently in the process of defining and developing its own specific protection approach and agenda, the joint biannual seminar has been dedicated this year to the theme of the protection of civilians.
The seminar has been called to look at the challenges and threats faced by civilians both in the context of armed conflicts and in other situations of violence such as internal tensions or internal disturbances, and remind states on their legal obligations towards civilians under international law, according to the AU.
It also offers opportunity to clarify how different actors, from humanitarian to peace support mission, while acknowledging their different role and responsibilities, can all distinctly contribute to the protection of civilians in line with their respective mandate.
While protection concerns present various challenges, the main challenge is undoubtedly to achieve consistent respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) by states and non-state actors, in international and non-international armed conflicts, said Christine Beerli, Vice-President of ICRC.
She said working to ensure respect for IHL in situations of armed conflict remains at the heart of the ICRC’s mandate and its mission.
“For the ICRC, protection and assistance go hand-in-hand. Our operational presence in hugely diverse situations of armed conflict or other types of violence ensures proximity to the victims. In Africa, this includes a wide range of varied and complex situations across the continent – from Somalia and Sudan, to Niger and Nigeria, to Libya and Liberia, among others,” said the Vice-President.
“We engage in confidential dialogue with state and non-state actors to uphold the rights of those victims, aiming as much as possible to prevent violations from occurring the first place. We remind the parties of their obligations to protect civilians and we promote compliance with IHL at all levels,” she added.
Representatives of AU member states, regional economic communities, UN agencies, international organizations, various experts in the field of protection of civilians and other invited guests attended the Seminar.