African Peace and Security in International Law and Its Applicability in Darfur

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The international community’s inaction to prevent and punish the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, as well as its recent indecisiveness in the Darfur conflict, which potentially could be the first case of genocide in the 21st century, highlighted the world’s ambivalent attitude towards conflicts in Africa. The UN Secretary General addressed the perception brought about by: ..the failure of the international community, including the United Nations, to intervene to prevent genocide in Rwanda. That failure has had especially profound consequences in Africa. Throughout the continent, the perception of near indifference on the part of the international community has left a poisonous legacy that continues to undermine confidence in the Organization.' In July 2000 the African leaders responded with a novel provision contained in article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union that purports to give the Union acting collectively, the right to intervene in order to stop war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity as well as serious threats to legitimate order to restore peace and security. Further, member states have a right to request such intervention. This being the first international treaty to contain such a right raises fundamental questions relevant to international law particularly with respect to the Act’s compatibility with traditional concepts such as the key provisions in article 2(4) and Chapters VII and VIII of the UN Charter. This is because until now, the general understanding has been that regional organisations’ right to intervene has been secondary and ultimately under the express authority of the United Nations. Using the case of Darfur, this paper analyses the different questions raised by the African Union’s purported right to intervene as part of its mechanism of regional security and how this right sits alongside established rules of international law


Keywords: UN, Darfur, International Law, Intervention, Rwanda, African Union
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
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James Muiruri

Law Tutor and PhD Candidate, Law Department, University of Sheffield
Sheffield, UK

I hold a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Kent and an LLM-International Law degree from Queen Mary, University of London, which scored a Distinction and was awarded the Drapers Company Prize for Academic Excellence. I am currently on scholarship as a Law Tutor and a PhD candidate at the University of Sheffield. Central research interests lie in the public international law areas of the use of force and collective security law, particularly within the African Union’s constitutional framework. An active member of the Law in Its International Context Research Cluster at the University of Sheffield

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