EAC pushed to adopt ‘responsibility to protect’

East African governments have been called upon to fully adopt and implement the ‘responsibility to protect’ norm to foster peace and security in the region.

East African governments have been called upon to fully adopt and implement the ‘responsibility to protect’ norm to foster peace and security in the region.

The call was sounded by the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP), during a press conference held by the East Africa Law Society (EALS), Thursday, in Arusha, Tanzania.

“Our citizens and government officials don’t seem to understand it yet the right to protect (RtoP) norm is very relevant to East Africans,” Donald Deya, the EALS’s Chief Executive Officer pointed out.

The Responsibility to Protect was endorsed by all the Heads of Government at the 60th UN General Assembly summit, as an expression of the world community’s responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“Had we had this collective measure in place, we probably wouldn’t have had the outcome of what we had in Rwanda in 1994,” said Dismas Nkunda, the Co-Director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI).

The need for the East African Community (EAC) to fully embrace the norm comes at a time when the bloc is developing a peace and security architecture, which will mean having a security secretariat that will enable early warning operations in the bloc. 

Nkunda also gave an example of Darfur’s volatile situation of which he said if the norm had been in place, there wouldn’t have been war crimes that have led to Sudanese President Omar el Bashir, facing International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments. 

Participants at the conference called for support of the norm which in 2008 won great attention from the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon when he issued a report showing commitment to turn the concept into a policy.

It is expected that the United Nations General Assembly will in the first half of this year formally take up the report, which is currently being circulated among member states. 

The EALS press conference came ahead of a major forum that started yesterday for civil society organisations and other stakeholders that will basically create awareness of the norm.

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