Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in ECOWAS member states have been urged to exert pressure on their governments to show more commitment to implementing the norms under the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) initiative.
The RtoP norms were endorsed by various governments at the 2005 UN World Summit held at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA.
They are aimed at committing governments to protect their citizens against mass atrocities such as ethnic cleansing and genocide.
A Policy Advocacy Officer of the West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Ms Omolara Balogun, who made the appeal, stressed the need “to push governments to put in place structures that would operationalise and domesticate the norm”. She was speaking at the opening of a five-day capacity training on RtoP norms for CSOs and media practitioners from 13 ECOWAS member states in Accra.
The training, organised by WACSI, was to deepen the awareness and knowledge of the participants in the relevance of the RtoP as an international norm and its related crimes.
Ms Balogun stated that while countries such as Ghana and Cote d’lvoire had taken steps to set up focal points on RtoP, others had shown little or no political will to put in place the needed measures to operationalise the norm.
“We have realised that nine years after the signing of the norm, most governments are not doing enough to protect their citizens against all forms of crimes against humanity”, she said.
Ms Balogun said while heads of state were aware of their obligations to implement the norms, there was no one to remind those leaders of their commitment to protect their citizens, apart from the representatives of the people, particularly civil society organisations.
“However, before our CSOs could hold their government accountable, they themselves must be empowered about the requirements of the norms”, she said.
According to her, there was a huge knowledge gap about the norms as most civil society organisations had little knowledge about them.
“The people often do not know anything about the treaties and norms their governments sign. These governments fail to educate their citizens about the treaties they have committed themselves to”, she said.
Source: Daily Graphic
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