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General News | May 24, 2004

International Peacekeeping seminar opens in Accra

GNA

Accra, May 24, GNA - A five-day international peacekeeping and training seminar dubbed: 'RECAMP 4' being hosted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC) opened at Teshie, near Accra on Monday.

The French Government is sponsoring it in collaboration with the Ghana Government.

About 220 multinational participants including Diplomats, Senior Military Officers from about 40 countries, representatives of European Union; United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and International Red Cross are attending the seminar.

RECAMP is the acronym for "Reinforcement of African Peacekeeping Capabilities," a French Security and Defence policy in Africa. Under the aegis of UN and in agreement with the AU, the RECAMP programme aims at helping African states to acquire military capabilities that would enable them to conduct peacekeeping operations across the African continent.

It is the Francophone version of the American African Contingency Training Assistance (ACOTA) to Anglophone West African Countries. This seminar is a prelude to a major military exercise comprising the armies of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), other African countries, EU, Canada and other organisations that would take place from November 29, 2004 to December 11 2004 in Benin. Opening the seminar, the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Akwasi Osei-Adjei on Monday said peacekeeping operations should be carried out within the framework of International Law and not infringe on the rights of the people it was supposed to be protecting.

"From the perspective of International Humanitarian and International Criminal Law, it is crucial as Peacekeepers to measure our actions in line with what was reasonably acceptable in the eyes of the international community."

Mr Osei-Adjei stressed the need for African countries in peacekeeping operations to be guided by the Constitutive Act of the African Union and the provisions in the UN Charter that dealt with peaceful resolution of conflicts.

He said it was also important that all players in the peacekeeping arena - Foreign Affairs Ministries; non-governmental organisations as well as other UN agencies - carried out their functions within the framework of international law.

Mr Osei-Adjei noted that the framers of the UN Charter on peacekeeping never anticipated the magnitude and complexity of conflicts especially in Africa and could, therefore, not lay the firm structures for their resolution.

He said that the trend had given way for the world community to adopt a more innovative approach of handling peacekeeping than the over reliance on the UN system for conflict resolution.

Mr Osei-Adjei said the French Government's efforts in empowering national security systems; regional and sub-regional grouping in enhancing their capacity to handle peacekeeping at their own levels was a welcome intervention especially as countries in the Sub-Region were sprouting out of military regimes.

Currently, out of a total of 52,000 UN peacekeepers, 40,000 are deployed in Africa.

He said even though the UN Charter recognised the role of regional organisations as stipulated in Article 52 of the Charter, the role was rather sidelined for almost five decades.

He expressed the hope that the RECAMP exercise would play a crucial role in preventive diplomacy by empowering regional institutions to gather information on early warning systems to help prevent conflicts from spreading.

The Deputy Minister told the delegates that political authorities had the responsibility of ensuring that good governance was brought to bear on the management of their economies in averting conflict situations that threaten their very survival.

He said it was important that Regional and Sub-Regional Peers joined hands with their development partners to ensure that the tenets of good governance were observed.

"The Peer Review Mechanism of NEPAD is, therefore, a timely intervention in measuring the standard of regimes in running the affairs of State on the African continent", he noted.

RECAMP was created in 1996. This year is the fourth cycle, and it has been dedicated to ECOWAS.

The Political/Military seminar would be centred on two main objectives: the management of crisis and the strategies to stop them and the simulation of a fictitious operation, which would be used as a base for the "Benin 2004" exercise.

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