SA's anti-weapons fight to continue

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pretoria - South Africa will continue to advocate strongly for a regulatory framework governing the use of dangerous weapons, International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said on Tuesday.

"This is particularly pertinent given the destructive and lethal nature of weapons on civilian populations," Ibrahim told delegates at the opening of the annual regional seminar on the implementation of international humanitarian law.

Representatives from several African countries are attending the gathering in Pretoria. The SA government had partnered with the International Committee of Red Cross in hosting the seminars for the past 11 years. They use the forums to promote international humanitarian laws and protection of human rights. In the past, the seminar had worked to end the use of children as soldiers, a practice seen in many African countries.

The UN 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and Convention on chemical weapons prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions, as defined in the convention.

Ebrahim said South Africa viewed the conventions as a critical step towards mitigating the human suffering and widespread destruction posed by the use of weapons.

"South Africa is working towards the ratification of both instruments and strongly encourages other countries to consider doing the same," he said.

Ebrahim said there was a need to develop uniform continental norms and standards for maximum protection of civilians in Africa. The continent should be in the position to draw from the international instruments such as the 1949 Geneva Conventions and other protocols that provided a solid foundation around the responsibility to protect, he said.

"I am pleased that this year's seminar is dedicated to acknowledging the tremendous work undertaken by the International Humanitarian Law Committees in various countries. These committees play a vital role in advising and assisting governments on appropriate and coordinated measures relating to the ratification and implementation of international humanitarian law in their countries".

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