State Sovereignty and International Rules Governing Protection of Civilians in Non-International Armed Conflicts: Impact of Human Rights Law

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Samir Awad, Siham
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The study is intended to address an important issue i.e. the problem of protection of civilians in non-international armed conflicts. The importance of the topic arises from the fact that today stability of international peace and security is a matter which is closely related to the effect of violence and atrocities committed on wide scale in such conflicts. The question of protection of civilian victims is the main issue which may give such conflicts an international dimension and may open the door for international interference. The regime of protection adopted under humanitarian law applicable in noninternational armed conflicts i.e. common Article 3 of Geneva Convention IV 1949 and Additional Protocol II, has its own shortcomings and lacunae as a result of insistence of States to preserve sovereignty which rendered it weak. In addition, experiences of recent and present conflicts show that the law is exposed to various challenges today. In fact the number, nature and conduct of hostilities have all changed since adoption of such rules. Moreover, there are a number of obstacles to the general adoption of such regime. It is seen as a pretext for interference in the internal affairs of States and is a restriction to their sovereignty. All these resulted in serious humanitarian problems, which has a direct impact on civilians. This required efforts to be made to find solutions in other branches of international law with a view to strengthen weakness and render the regime more effective. The purpose of the study is to find solutions to some of the problems by approaching the issue of protection within the broader context of human rights law. The study approaches the issue basically from the stand point of the contemporary international rules of the two bodies i.e. humanitarian law and human rights law. The reason being that protection under such bodies originates from one source of legal philosophy i.e. the respect of human dignity of persons in all circumstances. In view of this, the study shows how and to what extent human rights norms and their mechanisms influenced development of such rules and contributed to rendering the regime more effective. In this connection, the study discusses and examines different issues in relation to the subject matter while showing how State sovereignty and other factors place obstacles on the way of implementation of such rules in various forms. The finding of study has been applied to current Darfur armed conflict. The contribution of study is seen in attempting to highlight a legal framework of an international regime of protection within which both humanitarian and human rights norms may interact to provide solutions on current and emerging issues as far as protection of civilians in non-internal armed conflicts is concerned. The study contains ten chapters which discusses respectively: the theoretical relationship between human rights and humanitarian law and its impact on the notion of international protection of civilians in non-international armed conflicts; it traces the impact of human rights on the historical process of development of the law; examines the main specifities of the law; identifies areas of weaknesses by analyzing provisions of common Article 3 of Geneva Convention IV 1949 and Additional Protocol II 1977; it discusses the nature, extent and forms of contribution of human rights norms to various situations; discusses various issues in relation to implementation of the law on national level and the role of human rights mechanisms to ensure respect and implementation of such rules; discusses the question of legality of notion of “humanitarian intervention” justified on the protection of basic rights of civilians and controversary as to its lawfulness and related issues; it shows how the development of concept of individual criminal responsibility for crimes committed in such conflicts enhanced the system of protection and discusses the role of international tribunals and human rights norms in developing rules in this area. The study in applying the rules discussed, examines various legal aspects of Darfur conflict. The conclusion summarizes main findings of research, recommends a set of proposals and suggested reforms to render the international regime of protection of civilians in such conflicts more effective.
State Sovereignty, International Rules, Governing Protection,Civilians,International Armed Conflicts,Human Rights Law