GIS - 26 November, 2015: International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and the effects of war on society were the focus of a half-day workshop which was held yesterday at the Municipal Council of Port Louis. The aim was to convey the message of the importance of peace and harmony in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society like Mauritius.
An initiative of the National Humanitarian Law Committee under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office, the workshop has been organised in the context of a visit, from 24 to 27 November 2015, of a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and comprising Mr Christoph Vogt, Head of Regional Delegation in Antananarivo, and Ms Sarah Swart, Regional Legal Adviser.
Participants comprised elected members of the Municipal and District Councils, religious dignitaries, and members of the National Humanitarian Law Committee. The resource persons were Mr Vogt and Ms Swart. A presentation on ‘Humanity in times of conflict and violence’ was also made. On the same occasion a photo exhibition on IHL was held.
In his address, the Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr O.K Dabidin, recalled that IHL is a set of rules which, for humanitarian reasons, seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict. The law of armed conflict aims to protect civilians and ensure their safety and dignity, he added.
He further pointed out that Mauritius has adopted a preventive policy to ensure that generations to come do not get entangled in conflicts. To that end, Mauritius is party to 22 international Conventions and Protocols and has since 2002 set up the National Human Rights Committee to ensure that the country complies with Humanitarian Law instruments and that the population is aware of what is happening in other countries with regard to armed conflicts. Furthermore, Mauritius has signed and ratified the Arms Trade Treaty and the Convention on cluster munitions in July and October respectively this year.
The Arms Trade Treaty is a multilateral treaty that regulates the international trade in conventional weapons. It entered into force on 24 December 2014. The Treaty, said Mr Dabidin, is an attempt to regulate the international trade of conventional weapons for the purpose of contributing to international and regional peace, reducing human suffering, and promoting co-operation, transparency and responsible action by and among states. In view of implementing this Treaty, the Firearms Act will be amended soon.
Speaking about the Convention on cluster munitions, the Permanent Secretary said that it is an international treaty that addresses the humanitarian consequences and unacceptable harm to civilians caused by cluster munitions, through a categorical prohibition and a framework for action.
For his part the Head of Regional Delegation in Antananarivo, Mr Christoph Vogt, said that it is important for all States to remain at pace with international developments. He added that even small countries like Mauritius can contribute in the reduction of the sufferings of war and make the world a better place.
He congratulated Mauritius for its excellent IHL track record since it has ratified IHL Conventions and commended the National Human Rights Committee for its seriousness and efficiency. According to him, the Government of Mauritius is continuously deploying efforts to keep IHL high on its agenda.
In the context of the visit of the delegates from the ICRC, a working session on the relationship between the Arms Trade Treaty and maritime security was held today at the Lunch Room of the National Assembly. Participants were from the Mauritius Police Force, the National Coast Guard, the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources & Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, the Ministry of Tourism and External Communications, the Mauritius Ports Authority, the Continental Shelf and Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration and the Mauritius Shipping Corporation Ltd.
Another working session aimed at empowering Youth Officers to sensitise youngsters on Humanitarian Law and the need for peace.
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