Laws in conflict : the relationship between human rights and international humanitarian law under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • SDG 5
  • Abstract:

    Most armed conflicts today take place in Africa and it is increasingly African actors who are engaged in peacekeeping on the continent, yet scholarly writing on the regulation of these conflicts lags behind. One area where this is particularly true concerns sanctioning violations of international humanitarian law. This has long been difficult, given the tendency of domestic systems to close ranks and insulate their citizens from legal action. To provide at least some forum for justice in this situation, regional human rights bodies increasingly deal with rights violations even in situations of war, raising questions about their mandate and the relationship between human rights and humanitarian law. In the European and American context, these questions have already been the subject of considerable academic writing, but the same is not true for Africa. This article seeks to fill this gap. It first situates the existing approach of the major pan-African human rights institutions to international humanitarian law within the broader global debate. As a second step, it argues that an interpretive approach which takes international humanitarian law into consideration when interpreting rights in the African Charter provides the best approach to this question in the African context.