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ECOWAS wants member countries more responsive in protection of citizens
Nigeria Federal Ministry of Information
13 June 2012
In 2005, member states of the ECOWAS Community unanimously affirmed the adoption of the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) at the United Nations General Assembly Session (World Summit). By so doing, the states pledged to never again abandon peoples threatened by crimes of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
At the World Summit, ECOWAS Heads of State and Government urged the International Community to encourage and help states to exercise this responsibility and support the U.N in establishing an early warning capability.
The ECOWAS Commission is therefore holding a Regional Policy Forum on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) which has the active participation of the U.N, regional organizations, the diplomatic corps, civil society organizations as well as research institutions in a bid to develop a blue print of ideas in understanding the concept of R2P for its effective implementation.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru who declared open the Forum in Abuja on Monday, quoted the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, as focusing the implementation of R2P on a three-pillar strategy based on Articles 138 and 139 of the 2009 Report. These refer to primary responsibility of the state to protect its populations; the responsibility of the international community to assist states fulfill this responsibility; while the final pillar is the responsibility of the International Community to take collective actions through the U.N Security Council to protect populations under threat. (…)
The Minister lauded the ECOWAS region’s enormous contribution to setting the norm for the R2P. According to him, ECOWAS had engaged in collective political decisions and principles backed by concrete actions to protect vulnerable citizens in its member states from violence.
Ashiru, however, stated that “both the ECOWAS experience and recent global events provide a useful lesson, that for the operationalization of the Responsibility to Protect to be successful, it has to be context-specific and dependent on national and regional ownership and capacities. (…)
“The political debate around R2P since the 2005 U.N World Summit has shifted from questioning the principle to discussions on its effective implementation”, the ECOWAS President observed.
While stating that crimes against humanity could occur in the absence of conflict, Mr. Ouedraogo recognized the need to strengthen existing structures and capacities within ECOWAS and other regional organizations to enable them paly crucial roles in engaging in R2P crimes.
The Special Adviser to the U.N Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, Dr. Francis Deng who was represented by Mrs. Grace Njile said there was now consensus that regional organizations and the international community at large cannot afford to stand by while atrocity crimes are being committed against civilian populations, sometimes by their own governments.
He reiterated that the substantive content of sovereignty as responsibility, now recast as responsibility to protect, aims at inclusivity, equality and dignity for all citizens, without discrimination.
Read the full article.
Watch ECOWAS and Responsibility to Protect, a video released by ECOWAS ahead of the forum.


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