Governments have been urged to ascent to the policy and proposed legislation on PoC as well as present it in a manner that is proof of structural gaps. Mal. Auwal Ibrahim Musa- Rafsanjani, the Executive Director Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), made this known at the Protection of Civilian Champions Workshop in Abuja.
According to him, “it is the more reason we have gathered here today; to recognise those whose efforts have positively influenced this process – to establish clear framework for institutional authorities and responsibilities for the protection of civilians in armed conflict. For, as bleak as the current state of protection is, there is considerable scope for improvement if we each do our utmost to promote and implement the rules that bind us to preserve humanity in war.”
Mal. Auwal also said that Civilians are the best stewards of their own protection, and because they are their constituencies, they owe it a duty to design the pathway, that ensures that communities are safe, effective and meaningful; with these kinds of efforts to bring peace and stability in conflict. Civilians have devised and implemented highly effective solutions, including communities demanding and obtaining armed escort for women leaving their homes to gather firewood; community leaders persuading warring parties into an agreement to a daily ceasefire; that is because of the effect they also suffer directly or indirectly.
According to him, “I urge you to strengthen sanctions that holds perpetrators to account, the experiences and needs of civilian communities who suffer the daily brutalities of armed conflict must be incorporated into measures that protect them, We must move beyond a victim mind set to understanding people and communities as agents of their own protection and experts of their own situation, people in communities who suffer the daily brutalities of war and violence do not wait for external intervention, this is as a result of trust deficit that is damaged.”
In his Keynote Address, Hon. Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas, Chairman, House Committee on Army, said that protection of Civilian and civilian Harm Mitigation is a veritable tool to find an immediate and long-term solutions to the problem confronting and threatening soft targets.
According to him, “I want to state emphatically, that we must revisit the past to allow us to establish a pathway for the future. We need to use this PoC Champions Workshop to reaffirm our collective will and resolve to collapse political infrastructure towards the actualization of a PoC regime. I enjoin all awardees and recipients, including myself; to see this recognition as a call to National duty. PoC is an important consideration across the spectrum of military operations.”
In his words:
“There is an existing vacuum and we have collectively developed a policy regime as well as proposed a legislative framework that can help us bridge the gap. I assure all Champions here today; my sole agenda will be to see the bill component become a law before the end of the 9th Assembly. These vacuums also exist in our rules of engagements and concepts of operations. We need to deal with the discretionary powers of a personnel when it comes to the protection of civilian. The use of discretion is the bedrock for abuse and thereafter, subsequent harm. Protection of Civilians (PoC) must be considered and integrated during all operations. Civilians are protected persons under international law, and parties to a conflict have a legal obligation to protect civilians from the conflict’s effects. Additionally, PoC should be a major objective of many military operations and as well as frequently included in mandates for any kind of operations, no matter how little. This has remained my gospel everywhere I conduct my oversight function.”