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Crime: African countries deliberate on the domestication of atrocity prevention

Nigeria, on Monday joined other African countries in Banjul, The Gambia, at a regional conference to brainstorm on the domestication of atrocity prevention at the State level.

The conference, organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in partnership with the Government of Denmark had its theme as: “Domestication of Atrocity Prevention Norms at the State Level.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the conference was organized to check the surge in atrocity crimes in the West African sub-region and the adoption of renewed strategies to combat the surge.

KAIPTC Commandant,  Maj.-Gen. 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.

African countries deliberate on domestication of atrocity prevention

According to him, the situation in West Africa is worrisome as myriad security challenges are 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 egregious crimes like 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.

“Despite 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 that KAIPTC undertook a four-country study in Nigeria, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Gambia between March and May 2021  aimed at understanding the status of implementation of the responsibility to protect ( R2P).

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He added that the 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), Mr Serigne Ka, said the conference was borne out of a Security Council meeting held in Accra.

He said it was noted that the humanitarian situation in the ECOWAS region continues to look bleak.

This is like the perennial conflicts in the region which included insurgencies, the threat of terrorism in front-line countries and farmers-herders conflicts that 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, the 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.

“This is in addition to the mounting kidnapping incidents which remain a major security challenge in some member States,” he said.

Ka said he hoped recommendations at the conference would be an implementation of the instruments relating to the Responsibility to Protect human security will be further enhanced for the benefit of the ECOWAS citizens.

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Tom Nor ring, a Danish Ambassador added that the government of Denmark was proud to sponsor the conference which showed the country’s value for (R2P) responsibility to protect.

Nor ring said that Denmark had always been an advocate of atrocity prevention and that the conference was an opportunity to share ideas and experience on how to implement R2P.

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