Discussion on Human Rights and International Conflict
With the Israel-Hamas war still on-going, a small-scale webinar on the discussion about international conflicts and the necessity for the protection of civil human rights under the situation of war was held on November 26th. Participants from West Africa, including Sierra Leone and Gambia; and Asia, including Sri Lanka, were present at the online seminar to discuss a variety of topics related to conflicts among nations.
Mr. Hamiru Harry Massaquoi, Technical Assistant to the Office of the President in Sierra Leone, explained that Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa are in territorial conflict and the two are making an effort for the conflict to be settled without the use of force. He stated, “Sierra Leone and Guinea, we have a land border dispute, but we have never gone to war because of that. We believe it is our land, but Guineans are also occupying it. We have never gone to war because of that. Certainly it’s because Sierra Leone and Guinea are poor countries, and the bigger countries like to show their might through warfare. That’s the honest truth.”
Expressing pity for the basic human rights being violated in the Israel-Hamas War, he added, “I think the current situation in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and the Israelis grossly violated almost all the rights that we’ve just mentioned; the civilian rights, particularly those of children and women, have been grossly violated. It’s like at some point, I feel like none of the international laws on human rights have been observed.”
“We have seen how almost all the hospitals in Gaza have been, in one way or the other, destroyed. No electricity, no water supply. People have been starving. The ceasefires are not sufficient because it’s like temporal [sic] measures. So the permanent measure is for the international body to come together and make peace between these two countries in order for them to live amicably. The world is meant to be peaceful. If there is distress or war in any part of the world, it will affect others, either directly or indirectly” said Mr. Ousman Gaku, President of Federation of Gambia Muslim Youths (FEGAMY).
The Hon. Neil Iddawala, judge of the Court of Appeal in Sri Lanka, stressed, “Let us remember that humanity is not solely defined by its moments of darkness but also by its enduring capacity to seek justice, peace, and empathy. By speaking out against these heinous acts and actively working to prevent them, we take a small but significant step towards reclaiming the dignity and moral character of our species.”
Furthermore, it was emphasized at the seminar that a stronger international law and institutional strategy such as the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) is necessary to prevent international conflicts such as the Israel-Hamas war.