‘Commonwealth Parliamentarians should play a key role in supporting international humanitarian law’ says Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretary-General at Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Conference in Rwanda   

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Mr Akbar Khan has stressed that Commonwealth Parliamentarians should play a key role in the implementation of international humanitarian law in a global context. The CPA Secretary-General said: “The CPA is a community of Commonwealth Parliaments, Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff committed to deepening democratic governance through the promotion of Commonwealth values such as democracy, the rule of law, human rights, international peace and security and good governance as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter. The implementation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) promotes and upholds a rules-based international system, in which the proper implementation of and compliance with IHL is an important part of the system. The implementation of IHL goes directly to promoting the rule of law and good governance, and its role in contributing to international peace and security, and so Parliamentarians have a key role to play.

“In practice, Commonwealth Parliamentarians must ensure that national judicial authorities have the required legislative basis to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators while ensuring adequate penalties and judicial guarantees are respected. In Commonwealth countries, such matters are frequently covered in Geneva Conventions Acts and/or in International Criminal Court Acts.”

To read the CPA Secretary-General’s remarks to the IHL conference please click here or visit www.cpahq.org/cpahq/sgspeeches.

The CPA recognises the significant role of Parliamentarians in working with the Executive and others to promote IHL and to ensure its effective implementation. This requires Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to be well-informed and consequently, the CPA has been working with the British Red Cross to develop a number of joint projects for Commonwealth Parliamentarians – including a handbook on International Humanitarian Law for Commonwealth Parliamentarians and Parliaments.

The CPA Secretary-General was speaking at the 5th Commonwealth Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) held from 10 to 14 June 2019 at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda. The conference was held on the theme of ‘Celebrating the Geneva Conventions and building respect for IHL: A Commonwealth Perspective’ in the light of both the 70th anniversaries of the Geneva Conventions and of the ‘modern’ Commonwealth in 2019. 

The conference partners included the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Rwanda Red Cross and the Commonwealth Secretariat. The CPA Secretary-General also chaired a working group in the margins of the conference on IHL engagement with Parliamentarians with the outcomes reported back to the main conference. The keynote address was given by Hon. Johnston Busingye, Minister for Justice of Rwanda and key topics discussed at the conference included: Addressing serious violations of IHL: national and international measures; the role of National IHL Committees in upholding IHL; Engagement with the judiciary and with Parliamentarians on IHL.

During his visit to Rwanda, the CPA Secretary-General also visited the Parliament of Rwanda and CPA Rwanda Branch where he met with the Chairperson of the CPA Rwanda Branch Executive Committee, Hon. Senator Nyaghura Margaret, MP and Hon. Mutesi Anitha, MP. Rwanda is due to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2020.

For images of the Red Cross IHL conference please click here or visit www.cpahq.org/cpahq/flickr

Updated 18 June 2019.


The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association connects, develops, promotes and supports Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and the implementation of the enduring values of the Commonwealth. The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. 
For further information about the CPA, please contact:

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
CPA Headquarters Secretariat  
T: +44 (0)20 7799 1460
Email hq.sec@cpahq.org
For media enquiries, please contact communications@cpahq.org