Justice Edward Asante, President of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, says adhering to International Humanitarian law (IHL) is key to armed conflicts reduction in the region.
Asante said this at a two-day workshop on IHL organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the court in Abuja.
“The best way to counter the long-term impact of armed conflicts of whatever description is to prevent violations of IHL and IRHL,” he said.
IHL is a set of rules which seek to limit the effects of armed conflict for humanitarian reasons; protects persons no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare.
IHL is also known as the law of war or the law of armed conflict.
The court’s president said the training would better equip the court and contribute to addressing the challenges facing the respect for human rights in the region.
“It is very clear that the work of the court stands to be hugely enhanced if the key actors, particularly the judges and lawyers are exposed to the current legal regime in the field of IHL to better equip the court in addressing these unfortunate phenomena.
“It is against this backdrop that we consider it a privilege to host the experts from the ICRC for this two-day workshop ostensibly for training of our human resource base in the area of IHL.
“When fundamental human rights are not respected, people lose hope; the best way to counter the long-term impact of armed conflicts of whatever description, is to prevent violations of IHL and IRHL,” he said.
He urged participants to take seriously the training opportunity to make them acquainted with the principles of the IHL.
Similarly, Justice Keikura Bangura, member, ECOWAS Court, described the training as timely, adding that it enlightened participants on how human right law and humanitarian law interfaces.
According to him, these are very rich areas that need to be upgraded on periodic basis due to their vital role.
“Humanitarian law are areas that cannot be applied in isolation; if we are applying human right law you must give due consideration to humanitarian circumstances.’’
Mr Vincent Pouget, Communications Coordinator, ICRC Nigeria, described the training as an additional tool for their daily practice.
Pouget said the training was aimed at promoting and advocating for the use of the IHL and to further facilitate the use of the law in West Africa.
According to him, at the end of the training it is expected to increase the knowledge and understanding of the judges and other members of the court about IHL which is very relevant.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the 25 participants at the workshop included five Judges and 20 members of the court.