Tonga Legislature Receives Humanitarian Law Handbook

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Red Cross publication raises awareness of ‘law of war’

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Feb. 9, 2016) – Members of the Tonga Legislative Assembly today 8 February received about 50 new copies of International Humanitarian Law Handbooks, tailored specially for them by Tonga Red Cross Society.

Tonga Red Cross Secretary-General Sione Taumoefolau presented the first handbook to the Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano during a launch attended by the Prime Minister Hon. 'Akilisi Pohiva and MPs at parliament compound today, as temperatures soared in Nuku'alofa during a heatwave.

Lord Tu'ivakano said the handbook is aimed to raise their awareness of the international humanitarian law, which is a set of rules that seeks to reduce or limit effects of war or armed conflict on people and objects. It is widely known as the law of war or law of armed conflict.

"We as members of parliament will take action to promote respect and appreciation for International Humanitarian Law by ensuring the state is a party to the IHL Treaties," he said.

This means that Parliament would create and implement legislation, and disseminate knowledge of Humanitarian Law to electorates.

The handbook was designed and written by the Tonga Red Cross Society with assistance from the Australian Government and also outlines the role of the Red Cross during time of war.

"I am also appy that the handbook is currently being translated into Tongan. I look forward to the Legislative Assembly working with TRCS in promoting respect and awareness of International Humanitarian Law. "


Annabelle McConnachie, a lead researcher for IHL Pacific, said it was hoped that the handbook would inspire parliamentarians to take a range of actions to promote respect for international humanitarian law, including ensuring their state is a party to IHL treaties and to adopt legislation to effectively implement IHL obligations domestically.

"I trust it will prove a useful tool to help dialogue and cooperation between Tonga Red Cross and the government of Tonga to remain strong," she said.

Nima Dadbin a Regional Cooperation Delegate of the International Committee of Red Cross thanked the Australian Red Cross for their great work with TRCS in developing the handbook that is adapted to Tonga.

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