Nigeria, on Monday joined other African countries in Banjul, Gambia at a regional conference to brainstorm on “the domestication of atrocity prevention norms at the state level’.
The conference was organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in partnership with the Government of Denmark.
It was gathered that the conference was organized to provide an opportunity to deepen the discourse on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) or atrocity prevention policy and practice.
KAIPTC Commandant. Major General Francis Ofori while speaking at the conference said that atrocity prevention was critical to human protection and sustenance of peace and stability especially in West Africa.
He said the situation in West Africa is worrying as there are myriad of security challenges ranging from recent democratic reversals, inter-ethnic conflicts, evolving threats of violent extremism and governance deficits.
“This conference is being organized at a time when states are increasingly being challenged to take up their primary responsibilities to protect their populations from the four egregious crimes, namely; genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“Indeed, the commission of these crimes in the past have had dire consequences on peace and stability of countries such as Rwanda, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, to mention just a few.
“In spite of this troubled past and the promise of ‘never again’, policy initiatives and state-level implementation of atrocity prevention norms is limited.” he said.
Ofori said KAIPTC undertook a four-country study in Nigeria, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Gambia between March and May 2021 which was aimed at understanding the status of implementation of R2P.
He added that contents of various reports generated from the study are expected to generate discussions and debates to inform policy on the domestication of R2P norm in the West Africa region.
A representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Serigne Ka, said the conference was borne out of a Security Council meeting that held on June 25 in Accra.
He said it was noted that the humanitarian situation in the ECOWAS region continues to look bleak as the perennial conflicts in the region which included insurgencies, persistent threat of terrorism front-line countries and farmers-herders conflicts continue to worsen the humanitarian situation.
“In addition, poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, diminishing natural resources triggered by climate change effects and recurrent natural disasters such as the floods experienced in 2020 are factors fostering vulnerability and putting millions of people at risk in the region.
“This conference is also taking place within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to exacerbate the risks and drivers of conflict, threatening social cohesion, welfare of citizens and economic recovery.
“Indeed, human and drug trafficking as well as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons continue to undermine the peace and security architecture of the region, adding to the mounting kidnapping incidents which remain a major security challenge in some Member States” he said.
Ka said he hoped conclusions at the conference would be implementation of the instruments relating to the Responsibility to Protect human security will be further enhanced for the benefit of the ECOWAS citizens.
Tom Norring, a Danish Ambassador added that the government of Denmark was proud to sponsor the conference which shows the country’s value for (R2P) responsibility to protect.
Norring said Denmark has always been an advocate of atrocity prevention and that the conference was an opportunity to share ideas and experience on how to implement R2P.
He added that the conference would play an important role in atrocity prevention and that there is need to coordinate collective efforts to prevent loss of life.
A total of 45 participants from four participating countries; Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia converged at the conference which was in-person and virtual.