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Domesticating atrocity prevention norms in West Africa

9 Aug 2021 8:0

A two-days conference on July 21 & 22 aimed to revive the Responsibility to Protect norm in West Africa, drawing on national experiences, case studies and demonstrated best practices.  

Fifteen years after the adoption of the UN Secretary-General’s report on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which was intended to create enabling spaces and effective national mechanisms for atrocity prevention, it is widely perceived that the implementation of the norm has been haphazard at best if not deficient. 

To address these shortcomings, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) with support from the Government of Denmark organized a two-day regional conference on the domestication of atrocity prevention norms at the state levelThe conference took place in Banjul (The Gambia) and assembled more than 100 stakeholders from across the African continent to deliberate on national experiences on best practices as well as critical policy issues impacting atrocity prevention efforts in West Africa.  

The conference provided policymakers with pragmatic, action-oriented recommendations for addressing key issues including building resilience and strengthening early warning; ensuring accountability for atrocity crimes; incorporating a gender lens in early response; exploring indigenous mechanisms and the role of the international community in preventing mass atrocities 

The regional conference also provided a platform to present the findings of an empirical research on the status of implementation of the atrocity prevention norm in Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Liberia and Nigeria.  

The West African region has in recent years witnessed alarming atrocity crimes caused by the general lack of political will to address the structural weakness and proximate causes leading to violent identity-based conflicts, violent extremism, sexual exploitation and abuse and a host of other serious human rights violations.