Regional Policy Forum on the ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P)’ ends in Abuja, Nigeria,
Friday, 15th June 2012
Deputy Minister for legal Affairs, Cllr. Boakai Kanneh and participants at the Regional Policy Forum on the ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Abuja.Liberia’s representative at the just ended Regional Policy Forum on the ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P)’ in Abuja, Nigeria, Cllr. Boakai Kanneh, has described the two day event as a good initiative aimed at preventing conflicts and maintaining peace in the sub-region.
Organized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect, the forum discussed the existing structures and capacities within ECOWAS to respond to mass atrocities and how ECOWAS member states, the international community and civil society can collaborate to implement the R2P concept.
Cllr. Kanneh, Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the forum was an eye opener for him as he did not know of the existence of the R2P concept prior to his attendance, even though it had been around since 2005. “We’ve been jiving into ECOWAS initiatives to maintain peace in the sub region and prevent conflicts that will jeopardize the existence of our survival, like preventing war crimes and crimes against humanity, genocide, ethnic cleansing and other forms of conflicts” explained Cllr. Kanneh.
R2P’s three pillars obligate states as being responsible to protect their citizens from mass atrocities: Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing (Pillar One), and the international community to assist states in meeting these obligations (Pillar Two). But in the event that states fail to fulfill their mandates, the international community has the right to intervene to protect vulnerable people at risk (Pillar three).
Cllr. Kanneh said upon returning home, he would recommend a massive sensitization exercise to ensure that officials of government and all Liberians become aware of the R2P concept.
The legal counsel said another area of focus would be identifying focal persons to report issues of R2P as agreed by participants at the forum. “We would have to identify who the focal persons will be, whether from government or the civil society to ensure effective reporting and balance” said Cllr. Kanneh.
The forum recognized that although R2P initiatives are being undertaken at the ECOWAS Commission and member states they are not wholly structured and institutionalized, therefore making it necessary to strengthen the capacities of member states and civil society organizations involved in advocacy and reportage of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’.
The participants also recommended the strengthening and enhancement of the ECOWAS early warning system in collaboration with the African Union, United Nations and other relevant national and international Civil Society Organizations.
They also recommended the enhancement of financial and logistical response mechanism of the ECOWAS Standby Force, as well as the provision of support to ECOWAS and national structures to make the implementation of the R2P more effective.
The forum brought together about 100 representatives of ECOWAS member states, ECOWAS Ambassadors, representatives from the African Union, United Nations, regional peace-building organizations, and West African Civil Society Organizations from June 11-12 in Abuja, to discuss the R2P concept and its implementation in the sub-region.
Expert presentations on R2P were complemented by plenary and interactive sessions. Liberia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh, chaired the opening session of the event on the background, conceptual framework, structures, an expert presentation on R2P, and implementation of R2P within ECOWAS.