Posted by: africanpressorganization | 11 July 2011

President Jonathan canvasses speedy ratification, domestication of African Convention on IDPS


 

 

President Jonathan canvasses speedy ratification, domestication of African Convention on IDPS

 

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 11, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The current ECOWAS Chairman and President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has called on ECOWAS Member States to ratify and domesticate the African Union (AU) Convention on Humanitarian Assistance and Internal Displacement so as to strengthen their collective capacity to address the challenges of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in West Africa.

Addressing the first Ministerial Conference on Humanitarian Assistance and Internal Displacement in West Africa at the ECOWAS Commission on Thursday, 7th July 2011, the President said although at the sub-regional level, ECOWAS Member States have a relief and support architecture, there was the need to strengthen existing mechanisms through the ratification of the AU convention.

The AU text also known as the Kampala Convention was adopted by African leaders in 2009 to address the problems of humanitarian assistance and internal displacement on the continent.

According to AU records, some 31 signatures and six ratifications had been recorded, while six other Member States have reportedly completed the ratification as of Thursday.

 

The ECOWAS chairman, represented by Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, Permanent Secretary in Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry stressed the need for the strengthening of “our democratic structures to ensure good governance as an antidote to political and economic marginalization, which breeds social and political convulsions in our communities.”

He also called on ECOWAS to review and strengthen appropriate mechanisms and institutions in the region “to be able to respond speedily and efficiently to internal shocks, including disasters.”

Speaking in a similar vein, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency James Victor Gbeho, represented by Vice President Jean de Dieu Somda recalled that ECOWAS Member States played a key role in the process that led to the adoption of the Convention, which he described as the first legal instrument on internal displacement with continental scope.

He said the Ministerial conference, organized in conjunction with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the AU and support of the Government of Finland, was an ECOWAS initiative at supporting the achievements of the Kampala Convention.

“In developing strategies and setting standards to achieve our collective goals in assisting and protecting IDPs in West Africa, there is the need for the region to identify the root causes of displacement,” President Gbeho said.

In her statement of support read by the Mr. Dauda Toure, UN Resident Coordination in Nigeria, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos said “where we are unable to prevent conflict and violence, we must stop accepting internal displacement as its inevitable consequence.”

“More can and must be done to prevent displacement and avert the cycle of despair, deprivation and destitution that almost inevitably ensues,” she added.

While reaffirming the UN systems support, the senior UN official underscored the role of international humanitarian organizations and civil society towards the ratification and implementation of the Convention.

The UN Special Rapporteur on IDPs Chaloka Beyani said “the situation of internally displaced persons affects the stability of states because a stable state in international law is built on a stable population.”

He pledged his readiness to cooperate and work with the ECOWAS Commission, the

African Union Commission, the Member States, and civil society, “to protect and assist internally displaced persons in Africa, and to find durable solutions to their plight.”

 

The UNHCR Representative to the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Chrysantus Ache, noted that the “AU Plan of Action has a particular focus on promoting the signature, ratification and implementation of the Kampala Convention from 2010 to 2012 and expressly recognizes the essential role that Regional Economic Communities, including ECOWAS, have to play in this important process.”

He renewed the UN agency’s unwavering support towards the realization of the objectives of the treaty.

Ambassador Julia Joiner, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, who was commended for her distinguished role towards the adoption of the Convention, explained that since the context of displacement having changed dramatically since 1969, Africa now hosts some 3.8 million refugees and over 13 million internally displaced persons, the latter representing about 50% of world’s displaced population.

“Internal displacement is no longer an exception and the situation dictates that we respond with new vision and foresight,” she said, adding: “it goes without saying that we need to redouble our efforts to ensure the speedy entry into force of the Convention.

In her message to the ministerial conference, the Finnish Minister of International Development Mrs. Heidi Hautas, represented by Ambassador Kirsti Aarnio, said it was “only through the African ownership and determined action that genuine progress and development could take place” through the Kampala Convention.

She reaffirmed the support of her country to the Convention and its implementation.

 

SOURCE 

Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)


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