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Stakeholders undertake to support implementation of the Kampala Convention
 PR-2-Pic-1Liberian stakeholders reaffirmed their commitment, this week in Monrovia, to be more involved in the ratification of the Kampala Convention with a view to ensuring its ownership and implementation just like the Ivorian stakeholders who demonstrated the same determination in Abidjan a few days prior. 

As part of an ECOWAS awareness mission led by the Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow, two important fora were held in Abidjan and Monrovia on Monday 29 June and Tuesday 2 July 2015,respectively,.


Similarly, the mission will also meet government officials and civil society organizations (CSOs) in Nigeria, in a third and last stage of this tour, to raise stakeholders’ awareness on the importance of ratifying, owning and implementing this African Union convention.


The mission also seeks to raise awareness of the links between the Kampala Convention and ECOWAS Humanitarian Policy and its action plan, as a tool for implementing this convention on protection and assistance to internally displaced persons in Africa.


Adopted in the Ugandan capital, the African Union Convention on protection and assistance to internally displaced persons in Africa entered into force on 6 December 2012. It is the first binding instrument in the world adopted across an entire continent, and relating to protection and assistance to internally displaced persons within their own countries.


The AU noted that over 12 million people, or one-third of the global population displaced by conflicts, are in Africa. Meanwhile, many countries on the Western part of the continent have been, or are still, bedeviled with large-scale internal displacements, thereby creating humanitarian or emergency situations.

Speaking to relevant stakeholders, government officials, parliamentarians, technical and financial partners, national and international CSOs, Dr. Dia Sow underpinned the objectives of the convention, which include the establishment of a legal framework to prevent external displacements, but also to protect and assist the internally displaced persons.


Regarding its implementation, she suggested the establishment of a framework for solidarity, cooperation and promotion of lasting solutions, as well as mutual support between States Parties. She also referred to the reaffirmation of obligations by armed groups, non-state actors and other relevant stakeholders, including CSOs.


Both in Abidjan and Monrovia, the ECOWAS Commissioner highlighted the quality of cooperation between her organization and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in this area, noting that ‘the effective implementation of the protocol and adoption of a joint action plan have created a momentum that has allowed us achieve our common goals’.


She outlined the numerous achievements during the period of cooperation, the most important of which are the effective implementation of activities to find lasting solutions to refugee issues in the sub-region, as well as free movement and right of residence for asylum-seekers and refugees.


‘These achievements include, among others, contributions to peace and security through humanitarian interventions and management of humanitarian situations, capacity building in preparedness and emergency response, early warning, refugee protection and the asylum-migration nexus’, added Mrs. Dia Sow.

Cooperation between ECOWAS and UNHCR was further strengthened with the organization, in 2011, of the first ministerial conference on humanitarian assistance and internally displaced persons in West Africa, whose main objective was to ensure speedy ratification and swift implementation of the Kampala Convention by the 15 ECOWAS Member States.


Since then, it has been ratified by ten Member States, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo. Four Member States have signed the convention but are yet to ratify it. They are Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Senegal. Cabo Verde is the only ECOWAS Member State, which is yet to sign the Kampala Convention.


It is worth noting, however, that none of the ten Member States that ratified the convention included the provisions in its national law, though a few initiatives have been undertaken by some of the Member States. In addition, the Kampala Convention is suffering from low visibility owing to insufficient involvement of stakeholders such as parliamentarians and the media, hence the important recommendations made in Abidjan and Monrovia.


As a follow-up to the 2011 conference, the purpose of the ECOWAS mission is to raise Member States’ awareness so as to encourage and support speedy ratification, ownership and implementation of the Kampala Convention.


In the wake of this conference, ECOWAS successfully conducted a national study on compliance with the provisions of the Kampala Convention. This led to the target countries adopting measures to address the issue of internally displaced persons and making recommendations to all ECOWAS Member States.


‘This study conducted in Member States will be a snapshot of the legal, political and operational framework as well as factors hampering the effective implementation of the Kampala Convention’, explained the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender to her various audience.


A significant number of natural or man-made humanitarian incidents have resulted in difficult situations for internally displaced persons. This has serious socio-economic consequences on the entire West African region, hence the need to strengthen the protection of internally displaced persons.


Mrs. Fatimata Dia Sow stated that ’ECOWAS vision and our common objective of peace, security and development would not be achieved without citizens’ human rights and regional security. The issue of internally displaced persons is a test of our commitment to human rights and humanitarian standards, as well as proof of opportunities available to us in terms of peace, security and development’.


The Abidjan and Monrovia meetings were opened by Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia’s Justice Ministers, and was attended by dignitaries, including the ECOWAS Commission President’s Special Representatives in both countries as well as those of the African Union (AU).


The Monrovia meeting was also attended by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, who is undertaking an awareness and consultation mission on the deployment of the sub-regional organization’s early warning and response system.

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