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The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), devoted its 1022nd   meeting, held virtually on 17 August 2021, to a briefing, followed by a constructive discussion, by the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Mr. Peter Maurer, on the activities of the ICRC in Africa.

Council took note of the opening remarks made by the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cameroon to the AU and Chairman of the PSC for the month of August 2021, H.E. Ambassador Churchill EWUMBUE-MONONO.

Council welcomed the briefing by Mr. Peter Maurer and commended the ICRC for its continued role towards people affected by armed conflict situations and natural disasters, as well as by public health emergencies of international concern such as the Ebola Virus and the Novel Coronavirus Disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic in the Continent.

Council also welcomed the continued commitment and engagement of ICRC in Africa based on its seven fundamental principles, namely: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality, which are collectively aimed at ensuring protection of human dignity particularly during armed conflict situations.  

 

Council noted with concern the challenges facing ICRC in deploying its efforts to address humanitarian crises in parts of the African Continent, including limited cooperation by the national authorities, defence and security forces of Member States, limited access to the population in need, increased attacks against its personnel, violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) including serious violations to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional Protocols and, in this respect, encouraged Member States to continue to cooperate with the ICRC and to facilitate the work of the organization, including provision of humanitarian access to the population in need.

 

Council also noted with concern, the limitations imposed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to the work of humanitarian agencies in general and ICRC in particular.

 

Council commended ICRC for its global awareness raising campaign role in collaboration with the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), on the importance of protection of cultural property in the context of armed conflict and other situations of violence. In this context, Council strongly condemned the wanton destruction of cultural patrimony and called for ensuring that the perpetrators be brought to account for their actions by the national authorities.  

Council also strongly condemned the continued use of the prohibited weapons, in violation of the applicable international law.

Council urged the ICRC and all other humanitarian organisations operating in Africa to always take necessary precautions in their conduct, respect the sovereignty, national laws, rules and regulations, as well as to constructively engage with the governments of their host countries.

Council also urged the ICRC and all humanitarian organisations in general, to coordinate their efforts with their National or Regional counterparts in order to ensure complementarity and to avoid duplication of efforts and exhaustion of resources. In the same context, Council stressed the importance of ICRC to work closely, as appropriate, with all the stakeholders in the implementation of International Humanitarian Law and in humanitarian assistance including the AU Commission through the Department of Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department, the African Standby Force where applicable and more specifically, the envisaged AU Humanitarian Agency, once it is fully operationalised.

Council encouraged ICRC to continue to strengthen its contribution including in the response to armed conflicts and other situations of armed conflict and natural disasters, as well as in the protection and assistance to affected people.

Council highly appreciated the role of the ICRC in constantly improving and promoting International Humanitarian Law and ensuring its respect by all natural and legal persons concerned and to ensure that it asserts itself in various situations. of contemporary conflicts while underscoring the primary responsibility of the State in ensuring protection to the populations present on its national territory.

Council reaffirmed its commitment to further enhance its collaboration and cooperation with the ICRC and intends to convene its future annual consultative meeting with it in 2022.

Council agreed to remain actively seized of the matter.

Posted by PSC Secretariat
Last updated by Abraham Kebede

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