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Armed conflict laws forum

Felix Chaudhary
Friday, October 13, 2017

FIJI will play host this month to the first regional forum dedicated to the discussion of international law governing armed conflict.

President Jioji Konrote is expected to open the Pacific Islands Roundtable on International Humanitarian Law, which will be held at the Tanoa International Hotel in Nadi on October 24 and 25.

The forum will be co-hosted by the Fijian Government and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, whose office is co-ordinating the event for Fiji, said the roundtable talks represented a significant opportunity for Fiji and all participating states.

"As a nation that makes such an outsized commitment to global peacekeeping efforts, Fiji takes international humanitarian law very seriously," he said.

"Our peacekeepers put their lives on their line in conflict zones around the world to uphold those laws, laws that keep people safe across the globe during armed conflict.

"And Fiji is proud to host such an important forum, the first of its kind in the Pacific."

ICRC's head of Regional Delegation in the Pacific, Fred Grimm, said all states had an obligation to ensure respect for the laws of war.

"It is vital that states work to strengthen adherence to international humanitarian law, even during peace time," he said.

"States need to have these laws in place — they cannot wait until war breaks out.

"By then, it is too late. IHL has saved countless lives during conflicts across the globe."

On September 20 this year, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu were among the first 50 states to sign the treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

This was the first legally binding treaty to prohibit the full range of nuclear weapons related activities, including the development, testing, production and possession of nuclear weapons.

In a statement to world leaders, ICRC president Peter Maurer said states that signed the treaty were "giving the world the hope that it needs today".

"Humanity simply cannot live under the dark shadow of nuclear warfare and the immense suffering which we all know would result," said Mr Maurer.

Among the high-profile dignitaries expected at the meeting are ICRC vice-president Christine Beerli and former Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and International Criminal Court judge Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

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