Participation of the Secretary-General at the Fifth Commonwealth Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference on IHL
On 10-14 June 2019, over 140 representatives of 37 Commonwealth countries and 28 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies gathered in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda, for the Fifth Commonwealth Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference on International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The Conference was co-hosted by the Rwandan Government, Rwanda Red Cross Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Building on discussions at the Fourth Conference, which took place in July 2015 in Canberra, Australia, the theme of this year's event was ‘Building respect for International Humanitarian Law: a Commonwealth Perspective’. The occasion took note of the significance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (the Kampala Convention).
The Secretary-General of AALCO, Prof. (Dr.) Kennedy Gastorn spoke on the topic ‘IDPs and IHL’ at the conference. He presented on AALCO’s activities relating to IHL as norms of international law, including AALCO’s specific journal issue in the past on Cultural Property and IHL, as well as its more recent AALCO-ICRC Seminar on Autonomous Weapon Systems, Artificial Intelligence and Armed Conflict that took place on 8 January 2019.
Specifically relating to the topic, he principally explained the discussions that took place within AALCO in the 80s and 90s on the necessity of establishing Safety Zones for IDPs in the country of origin, including the ‘Framework for the Establishment of a Safety Zone for Displaced Persons in their Country of Origin’, drafted by AALCO in 1995.
Broadly, the aim of establishing a Safety Zone is both to protect the life and property of displaced persons in their country of origin by placing them under a UN protected area, and to further prevent the exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries, thus fulfilling the obligations of burden-sharing. He explained how in spite of having been drafted well over two decades ago, the ‘Legal Framework’ established under AALCO may be termed as a modern-day tool for bringing a proper resolution to the present day IDP situation.