US embassy, GAF brainstorm on human rights, humanitarian law
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The United States embassy in Banjul, yesterday organised a seminar on human rights and international humanitarian law for the Gambia Armed Forces, at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
In his opening remarks, Barry Wells, the United States ambassador to The Gambia, expressed delight to be associated with the seminar which, he said, is aimed at addressing a universal and fundamental consideration, i.e. human rights. Ambassador Wells observed that human rights and military operations are of common interest to The Gambia and the United States of America, and that they are also a global concern. Commenting on the importance of human rights, Ambassador Wells noted that in 2005, Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, said: "We will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development, and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights,"
He went on: "I am particularly pleased to see the outstanding participation in this seminar. We have present among us, current and future leaders of the Gambia Armed Forces, some of whom will certainly attain the most senior levels of leadership. What you learn and discuss during this short seminar will guide your thinking and decision making for the rest of your career, whether serving your country in the military, the civil government or in your private life.
I strongly encourage you to absorb the lesson presented and fully participate in every discussion and share your experience. Help us to appreciate your own understanding of the military's responsibilities towards upholding the dignity and ensuring the rights of people, combatants and non-combatants," Ambassador Wells highlighted.
He described the seminar as a platform that will give the participants the opportunity to pursue efforts in training their subordinates and peers on human rights, the rule of law that gives citizens a sense of security and confidence in the Armed Forces, and that transcends political affiliations.
Ambassador Wells finally thanked the staff of the Defence Institute for International Legal Studies (DIILS) for their contribution to this important mission and wished the participants a successful deliberation. For his part, Major General Lang Tombong Tamba, chief of defense staff of The Gambia Armed Forces, described human rights as essential, adding that the protection and promotion of human right should therefore be everyone's responsibility. Major General Tamba expressed hope that the topics to be discussed will be rich experiences for the participants, where one can assess one's understanding of human rights and improve on where necessary.
CDS Tamba noted that the seminar will contribute meaningfully to their work and it will increase the compliance of The Gambia Armed Forces with humanitarian law. He thanked the US embassy, the United States Defence Institute of International Legal Studies and other stakeholders for organising the seminar.