This was the message by Hennie Strydom, a professor of International Law at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the holder of the South African Research Chair (SARChi) in International Law, together with Dr John-Mark Iyi, a Nigerian researcher and post-doctoral fellow at UJ, when they briefed the media as a prelude on the importance of a two-day international conference entitled Boko Haram and International Law: Mapping the Legal Terrain for Responding to Insurgencies and Armed Conflicts in Africa. The conference, to be held at the University’s Madibeng Building, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, will see delegates from various African countries and Europe tackling this human rights issue. The conference is scheduled for 25 and 26 February 2015.
“The world’s attention was on the terrorist attacks of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo
in Paris, in January 2015 while, in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, another crisis was unfolding with Boko Haram’s wave of bombings, assassinations and abductions,” said Prof Strydom.
Prof Strydom posed the questions: What makes one massacre more newsworthy than another? Why is the world ignoring the attacks by the Nigerian militant Islamist group, Boko Haram? Why is the world so slow to respond to a volatile situation where the human rights of a country is being brutally violated?
“More than 13,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram between July 2009 and June 2014. It is estimated that 1.5 million people have been displaced as a result of the terror perpetrated by Boko Haram. The United Nations Security Council condemned “in the strongest terms” the escalation of attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists along the border between Cameroon and Nigeria.”
Prof Strydom elaborated on the gravity of the Boko Haram situation in Nigeria; Nigeria’s responsibilities under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the role of neighbouring states; the belated intervention by the AU; the United Nations response; where the weapons and financial assistance coming from for Boko Haram’s campaign of terror; and on whether Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation have links to Al-Qaeda.
The two day conference will ask burning questions around the issue of terrorism in Africa and high level security officials from Nigeria will join the conversation.