Executives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in Liberia have called on the National Legislature to ratify the Kampala Convention.
The Kampala Convention calls for the establishment of a legal framework for preventing external displacement, and protecting and assisting of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). It is a framework for solidarity, cooperation, promotion of durable solutions and mutual support between state parties. It provides for the respective obligations of armed groups, non state actors and other relevant actors, including civil society organizations.
The IDPs are people obliged to flee their homes or places of habitual residence in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violation of human rights, natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internally recognized state border.
ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Tunde O. Ajisomo, said the workshop about Post-IDP Conference Advocacy Mission to Liberia was meant to discuss the adoption of the commitment Liberia had made with respect to the Kampala Convention about the welfare of the IDPs.
He said there were discussions at a local resort in Monrovia a few years back where the need for making laws to protect IDPs was discussed, and with this commitment, ECOWAS is looking up to
Liberia’s Lawmakers to ratify the Convention.
The Ebola crisis, coupled with other natural disasters, Ambassador Ajisomo said, drives internal displacement and urged ECOWAS countries to remain vigilant and strengthen the health sector in a collective effort.
It was noted that the recent flood disaster due to heavy downpour had displaced many residents of Monrovia, while fire disasters and demolition of congested slum communities in Accra had displaced thousands in Ghana.
For UNHCR Acting Representative Loli Kimyaci, her organization has been collaborating with the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to sensitize people about the significance of ratifying the Kampala Convention.
Dr. Fatimata Dia Sow, ECOWAS Social and Gender Affairs Commissioner, also recalled that an agreement had been reached among West African leaders for strong implementation of the Kampala Convention, and sensitization carried out so that people will be aware of its domestication and implementation.
She said the meeting on July 2, 2015, was a snapshot to get ECOWAS countries to see reason for the implementation of the convention since it has been agreed on by all parties.
Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh, who arrived when the opening formalities were drawing to a close, said Liberia remains committed to ECOWAS and the Kampala Convention as ECOWAS’ role in restoring peace in the sub-region is visible to all.
He also noted that signing and ratifying Convention was not enough, but Africans must learn to domesticate and reform laws that will be in conformity with international instruments.
Nimba County Representative, Sam Kogar, in remarks, pledged to rally his fellow lawmakers to ensure the Convention is ratified.
The discussion held in Monrovia was in commemoration of the IDP Sensitization Mission to Liberia’s 40th Anniversary. The discussions took into consideration scores of issues including humanitarian affairs policy and action plan, presentation of the Kampala Convention and outcomes.
The Kampala Convention of the African Union (AU) on IDPs adopted by ECOWAS underscores that state parties are obligated to prevent political, social, cultural and economic exclusion and marginalization of citizens. State parties are also to ensure individual responsibility and accountability for acts of arbitrary displacement, including that of non-state actors, and may seek the cooperation of international organizations or humanitarian agencies and civil society organizations.
The convention further obligates parties to protect their populations against arbitrary displacement and displacement caused by development projects.
During period of displacement, state parties are also called to bear the primary responsibility for providing protection and assistance to IDPs within their territories, including IDPs registration and documentation. They are expected to respect the mandate of the AU and the United Nations (UN) and the role of international humanitarian agencies in providing protection and assistance, respecting the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian actors.
The Kampala Convention requires state parties to protect humanitarian personnel respect and ensure respect for the civilian and humanitarian character of places where IDPs are sheltered.