A seminar on Islam, humanitarian action and protecting victims of armed conflict was bringing together 30 intellectuals and academics from Islamic and Arabic-speaking universities from across Africa. The event was being held on 25 and 26 November 2015 in Niamey and organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Islamic University of Niger.

“Given the increase in armed conflicts and violence, dialogue on these issues is more necessary than ever. We need to make more people aware of international humanitarian law and how it ties in with other standards, such as Islamic law and jurisprudence. This is about making sure that people have the widest possible protection,” said Loukas Petridis, the head of the ICRC’s delegation in Niger.

The seminar will enable teachers and intellectuals from 14 countries – Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia – to discuss issues relating to humanitarian action and law, and protecting and helping people affected by armed conflict. They will also be discussing the obstacles facing humanitarian workers today. This is especially important since hundreds of thousands of people are currently without protection or aid, often because humanitarian workers are not able to work in safety and are not granted access to those in need.

The Islamic University of Niger, which is affiliated to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, believes that universities are an ideal environment for this kind of seminar, given their status as places of learning and sharing, and their role in promoting humane values. Islamic law and jurisprudence set out rules for the conduct of hostilities and protecting human life and dignity in armed conflict. “It is the role of religious leaders and academics to raise awareness of these rules and discuss how they can be upheld,” said the university’s chancellor, Moncef Jazzar.