Darfur and humanitarian law: the protection of civilians and civilian objects

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Abstract

The Darfur armed conflict, which is still ongoing between Sudanese armed forces, their affiliated militia and various rebels (some of whom receive external support), has inflicted unspeakable consequences upon civilians, their villages, towns, homes and other civilian objects—in particular relief assistance. The international community, including Sudan, has made, and is still making, albeit slowly, various efforts to secure peace and to stop violations of humanitarian principles in Darfur, including the controversial referral of some criminal cases to the ICC (which led to the indictment of the president of Sudan and the first head of state to be so) and the deployment of peacekeepers/enforcers which constitute the main features of the responses. Scholarly focus has been on the criminal side of the issue. This article deals with international humanitarian law (IHL) rules relating to the protection of civilians and civilian objects in the conflict. It examines the nature of the conflict, the applicable rules and compliance with those rules and the weakness and strengths, if any, of the responses of the international community in providing physical protection to civilians and their objects. It is argued that while the primary responsibility to stop violating civilian immunity rests on the warring parties there, and the regional approach to prevent widespread IHL violations in Darfur may have some obvious advantages, the erga omnes nature of the concerns at issue necessitates a concerted, adequate and timely global action to prevent further atrocities on the ground. The paper concludes with some suggestions which may help further prevent/mitigate armed violence against civilians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-69
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Conflict and Security Law
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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