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ECOWAS standby force under training

More than 40 members of the Economic Community of West African States Standby Force (ESF) have begun a training course on international humanitarian law (IHL)and rules applicable in law enforcement in armed conflict situations. The five-day training is jointly conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the ECOWAS Commission.

“We live in times characterized by increasingly complex situations of armed conflict and violence, not just in Africa but the world at large”, says Jean-François Queguinner, ICRC’s deputy head of delegation in Nigeria.

The ICRC official says it is times like these that challenge them to emphatically demonstrate in their words and actions that wars do have limits.

The ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF) is a multidisciplinary force composed of military, police and civilian personnel from the ECOWAS Member States. The ESF provides personnel for regional and continental peace support operations missions. The training is meant to further enhance the operational readiness of the ESF which was attained in 2015.

The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the ECOWAS Commission Mrs. Halima Ahmed says the integration of IHL and other rules applicable in law enforcement situations in the operational practices of the ECOWAS Standby Force should promote respect for these laws regardless of where members are deployed for peacekeeping operations in the region.

“We aim to pass across the message that the protection of civilians is always at the core of any peacekeeping mission,” Mrs. Ahmed says. The workshop, which the ICRC previously conducted in 2009 and 2016, will discuss the operational situations where IHL and other rules pertaining to law enforcement situations apply; practical application of legal concepts in military operations and the protection of civilians in the conduct of hostilities.

The ICRC cooperates closely with the ECOWAS Commission in promoting integration of IHL into regional states’ national legislation, as well as the inclusion of IHL and other rules applicable in law enforcement operations into relevant doctrine and training of military and other security forces.–Press release

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