Today, as part of the first-ever Africa-Europe Week, the European Commission co-hosts a panel on international humanitarian law (IHL) together with Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Ambassador Fred Ngoga Gateretse, representing the African Union Commission.
The event comes as attacks against civilians, hospitals, schools, medical and humanitarian workers are on the rise globally. The current conflicts on the African continent are no exception to this.
According to the ACLED database, there were 7,800 violent incidents against civilians across Africa in 2021, including attacks, abductions, and sexual violence. The incidents resulted in 14,500 fatalities. These figures are record high over the last 10 years.
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “Compliance with international humanitarian law is of paramount importance in allowing access to life-saving humanitarian assistance for civilians affected by armed conflicts, as well as for their protection. Together with our international partners, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the African Union, we continue championing global respect for international humanitarian law. Saving civilian lives should never come at the cost of the humanitarian workers’ lives. I urge all parties to conflicts to remember this.”
International humanitarian law remains at the heart of the EU’s external actions as it is a precondition of effective humanitarian aid in armed conflicts.
Last March, the European Commission adopted a new policy that aims to enhance respect for international humanitarian law, by strengthening EU-level coordination and the IHL compliance framework, as well as improve the monitoring of violations to the law.
Respect for international humanitarian law is also a key element for the future prospects of peace and development of countries emerging from wars.
- International humanitarian law
- Working together to improve compliance with International Humanitarian Law
- Publication date
- 17 February 2022
- Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)