Press Releases

ECOWAS Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross to Strengthen Cooperation on Humanitarian Law

11 Sep, 2019
Vice President Koroma (SL) Dr. Sintiki Ugbe (R), Mr. Jerome Boa and Mr. Mam Jallow

Abuja, 10th of September, 2019 . The ECOWAS Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are strengthening their cooperation on the sustenance of International law provisions in the region.

Both bodies have resolved in this regard to leverage their current engagement using the key priorities in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between them since 2001.

Conferring with the President of the ICRC Mr. Peter Maurer on the 10th of September 2019, in Abuja, Nigeria, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission H.E Madam Finda Koroma stressed among others, the importance of teaching humanitarian law in the Universities in the region while recommending a carefully worked out synergy between the ICRC and the region’s other Institutions of higher learning.

Drawing attention to the existing MoU while referencing the plight of child soldiers and women, she maintained that since most Member States are signatories to the international treaties on humanitarianism, the subject can be imbedded in the curricula of the schools as well as military, police and intelligence agencies early enough for the required internalization to take place, hand in hand with a sensible review of the existing Focal Points.

Remarking on the importance of dealing with the matter of irregular migration and citing the Libyan example, she disclosed that the Commission is worried by the prospects of contamination of West African citizens upon leaving detention camps, owing to exposure to groups who harbour tendencies bordering on violent extremism.

She noted further that the concern of the Commission over peace and security of the region informed the series of meetings held with stakeholders including civil societies Organisations (CSO)s as a precursor to the forthcoming extraordinary summit on the fight against terrorism, in Burkina Faso.

Mr. Maurer (M) flanked by Mr. Fillion, Mr. David Udekwu and other members of the the ICRC delegation

Madam Koroma also pointed out the importance of giving recognition to deserving security personnel who display uncommon respect for humanitarian law in the course of duty.
She pledged the unrelenting efforts by the Commission to focus on preventive frameworks and dialogue while creating a healthy atmosphere for greater integration of the ECOWAS region given that the outbreak and management of conflicts and peacekeeping ventures are ultimately more expensive.

Briefing Vice President Koroma on the ICRC’s initiatives and collaboration with its partners especially ECOWAS, Mr. Peter Maurer harped on the need to connect with the regional structures, in aid of humanitarian international law. He said the ICRC is keen on strengthening existing relationships with organisations such as ECOWAS to enhance the ratification of the Kampala convention.

Mr. Maurer who was accompanied by the ICRC’S Head of Delegation to Nigeria and accredited representative to ECOWAS Mr. Eloi Fillion and some senior officials, stressed the need for the transmission, beyond textbook prescriptions, of the tenets of humanitarian law into Members States’ security operations.
Noting that terrorism violates international humanitarian laws, he agreed that radicalization constitutes a disturbing threat that requires collaborative initiatives and cooperation with efforts such as those of the G 5 Sahel and the international joint Task Forces, to energize the population space and protect migrants as well as Internally Displaced Persons (IDP)s

The President of the ICRC said that his origination is disposed towards putting forward, ideas which can field into discussions while contributing meaningfully to the subsisting ECOWAS policy on humanitarianism.

The ICRC and the ECOWAS Commission have been collaborating to promote the implementation of International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) treaties. The two organisations also developed in 2009, a Plan of Action on Implementation of the IHL in West Africa.

The key priorities in their current engagement include the elaboration of an Organizational level Joint Plan of Action which guides programming and fund raising for the next 3 years, among others.

Member States