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ICRC seeks compliance of International Humanitarian Law



Mr Peter Maurer, the President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), has called on States and non-State actors to comply fully with the rules of engagement of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
Maurer made the appeal while speaking on the 70th Anniversary of the Geneva Convention in Abuja.
He said 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Convention which was signed on Aug. 12, 1949, and was ratified by every state in the world.
He explained that the basic concept of the IHL was to protect people who are not or are no longer participating in hostilities.
“The Geneva Convention has rules of engagement with no distinction between the state and non-state actors.
“The convention speaks about parties in conflict and the purpose of engagement is in two folds; to negotiate the humanitarian space in areas where state actors are in control of territories and to ensure compliance with the rules of IHL.
“We engage by training, criticising and reviewing military operations. ICRC will always engage with those actors who are ready to engage with us, which puts a limit to our ability of engagement,’’ he said.
Maurer stressed that non-state actors have obligations in the conduct of hostilities in which they operate, which are the humane treatment of detainees and non-attack of civilians, among others.
He added that the non-state actors have same obligations and cannot excuse themselves from such obligations, adding that it is compulsory for them to adopt the IHL in their operations.
He explained that as the guardian of IHL, the ICRC’s mission was to raise awareness and ensure respect for the rule of IHL by all parties of armed conflict, adding that if respected, the rules protect everyone.
“Despite this, civilians often endure terrible suffering in armed conflicts and in some cases are directly targeted.
“They may be the victims of massacre, deportation, hostage-taking, sexual violence, harassment or they may be deliberately prevented from obtaining water, food and medical care.
“That is why ICRC maintains a presence in areas where civilians are most at risk,’’ he added.
Mr Akpan Anani, the President, Nigeria Red Cross Society (NRCS), said IHL aims at minimising the impact of armed conflict on people with obligations which seeks to avoid families being torn apart.
He said 70 years ago the community of states came together to commit themselves when they adopted the Geneva Convention by laying down a framework for protection and assistance to the most vulnerable in times of war.
Anani said the Geneva Convention had continued to provide a yardstick of humanity and a beacon of hope.
“We see the pain of the wounded, the despair of the displaced, the hunger of those who have lost everything and the grief of those bereaved.
“We hear the voices of these people who simply expect that they be spared from the hostilities, and they are right to expect this,’’ he said.
Anani added that the implementation of the Geneva Convention was not an easy task, thus there is need for determination, patience and unwavering trust that IHL was possible and can make a difference.
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

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