Juba — The Republic of South Sudan on Monday agreed to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols related to the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war, after a bill was passed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).
The move now implies that all countries in the world have now signed the 1949 Geneva Conventions, making the treaties truly universal.
"We are very pleased to learn that South Sudan has acceded to the Geneva Conventions. These rules which seek to protect human life and prevent needless suffering are now universal. The fact that all States have signed them puts that beyond doubt," said Melker Mabeck, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Juba.
"The Geneva Conventions must continue to be incorporated into the training and doctrine of South Sudan's army so they are known and complied with," he added
The Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols are the core of international humanitarian law, setting out rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict.
These rules, among others, protect persons not, or no longer, participating in hostilities, such as civilians, health workers and aid workers, wounded or sick soldiers, prisoners of war and other persons deprived of their liberty, and impose restrictions on the means and methods of warfare to which parties to conflict can resort.
"This is an historic moment for South Sudan," said Dengtiel Ayuen Kuur, who chairs the NLA Committee of Legislation and Justice."
"These laws restricting the means and methods of warfare must be adhered to if we are to forge a path towards peace and prosperity. Today we as a nation underline our commitment to the principles of humanity even in times of war," he added.
The ICRC's permanent international mandate to protect and assist victims of armed conflict is derived from the Geneva Conventions.
Since it began operation in the region in 1986, the ICRC has reportedly provided technical support and advice to the South Sudanese government during the accession process, in addition to conducting training and information sessions on international humanitarian law for South Sudan's army and armed groups present in South Sudan.