x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Education to include humanitarian laws

The importance of respecting international protocols will be part of country's curriculums.

ABU DHABI // Schoolchildren and university students will be taught about International Humanitarian Law to encourage its implementation.

Work is already under way with the Ministry of Education to include the laws in school and university curriculums, Dr Adel Rahim Al Awadi, the assistant foreign minister for legal affairs and chairman of the national committee for IHL in the UAE, said yesterday.

He said the FNC would be made aware of the laws.

"They are the ones who oversee every law passed on to them from the Cabinet, so they need to know, particularly since the majority of members are new.

"They will need to make sure that the IHL is respected in every federal law and that no article violates it."

IHL includes the Geneva and Hague Conventions, and governs the conduct of forces and nations in armed conflict. It also makes provisions for the protection of civilians.

Awareness about IHL is not limited to the Emirates with it being one of 17 Arab states that will implement IHL.

Events in Syria have underlined the importance of this week's three-day meeting with Arab government experts on the progress on implementing the laws, said Radwan bin Khadra, the adviser to the Arab League secretary general and head of its legal department.

Mr bin Khadra said it was evident that during the Arab Spring some states had ignored the law.

"The meetings serve as a reminder to the Arab states on international law," he said.

The three days of talks have focused on drawing up a regional plan to implement the laws this year and next.

"This is all for prevention purposes, so that when such events happen in any one country, all parties respect the laws," Mr bin Khadra said.

"This is long-term work, we are not only working on one mission, Syria or Libya, it is different depending on different circumstances."

He said each country should commit to local and international agreements. Locally, laws need to be adopted to coincide with international protocols.

"Being part of the agreement is not enough, legislators in countries must put in place bylaws and a framework, with punishments in case of any violations to the laws," he said.

"When a judge comes to give a verdict, he can through the laws."

He said the laws were key as they were the only way to safeguard civilians.

"The law is the judge in the end," he said. "The most important thing are the civilians, they need protection. Civilians need to feel protected."

Delegates from 17 Arab states all agreed on the regional plan of action. It requires them to establish a National Committee for IHL to oversee the implementation of the laws.

Governments should give these committees full access to anything they need and ensure independence from all other human rights organisations.

Diplomats, judges, military, security and members of parliament should be trained on how to respect and implement the laws too.

osalem@thenational.ae