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The Role of the United Nations, the African Union and Africa's Sub-Regional Organizations in Dealing with Africa's Human Rights Problems: Connecting Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect

  • Jeremy Sarkin

Abstract

This article examines the basis for humanitarian intervention (HI) in the United Nations Charter, the African Union (AU) Charter and in a number of African sub-regional institutions. It traces the historical development of HI and argues that, while the right to HI emerged more than 100 years ago, that right also emerges from the Genocide Convention. The article argues that this treaty connects HI to the developing norm of the responsibility to protect (R2P) and examines the extent to which R2P is garnering wider support around the world. It focuses on the UN, and the various AU and sub-regional institutions and instruments that sanction HI. It assesses whether intervention can be authorized even in the absence of a UN Security Council mandate and examines the principles, application and interrelationship of R2P and HI in the African context. It traces the use of these norms in Africa, including in the various sub-regional structures, and evaluates the AU's political will and capability to deal with conflict and human rights abuse.

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27 See further Sarkin, J and Pietchman, MLegitimate humanitarian intervention under international law in the context of the current human rights and humanitarian crisis in Burma/Myanmar” (2003) 33/1 Hong Kong Law Journal 371.

28 UN Charter, art 2(4).

29 Id, art 11.

30 Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty at para 6.30, available at: <http://www.iciss.ca/report-en.asp> (last accessed 14 April 2008).

31 UN Charter, art 52.

32 Id, art 53.

33 There have also been a few cases of single country interventions into a neighbouring state. For example, Tanzania intervened in Uganda and overthrew Idi Amin in the late 1970s. Although Kenya, Nigeria, Libya and Sudan objected to this, the international community response was generally muted, even though intervention by Vietnam in Cambodia at around the same time drew much reaction. The intervention was accepted by many as Tanzania acting in self-defence and was not even discussed by the UN Security Council or General Assembly. It was however discussed by the Organization of African Unity on a number of occasions. See Murphy, SDHumanitarian Intervention: The United Nations in an Evolving World Order (1996, University of Pennsylvania Press) at 106; Wheeler, NJSaving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society (2000, Oxford University Press) at 122. A more recent example is that of France intervening in the DRC in 2003. However, that intervention had UN and European Union authorization and played a limited role, while the UN organized its own force. See Holt, VK and Shanahan, MKAfrican Capacity-Building for Peace Operations: UN Collaboration with the African Union and ECOWAS (2005, Stimson Center) at 50.

34 Allain, JThe true challenge to the United Nations system of the use of force: The failures of Kosovo and Iraq and the emergence of the African Union” (2004) 8 Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law 237 at 261.

35 Id at 263.

36 Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the AU, adopted by the 1st ordinary session of the AU Assembly, Durban, 9 July 2002.

37 “The common African position on the proposed reform of the UN: ‘The Ezulwini Consensus’” (7th extraordinary session of the AU Executive Council, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 7–8 March 2005).

38 Available at: <http://www.au2002.gov.za/docs/key_oau/au_act.htm> (last accessed 14 April 2008).

39 “The common African position”, above at note 37 at 6.

40 Above at note 37.

41 International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty The Responsibility to Protect: Research, Bibliography and Background (2001, International Development Research Council).

42 K Annan “Balance state sovereignty with individual sovereignty!” (speech at the UN General Assembly on 20 September 1999). See also Annan, KTwo concepts of sovereignty” (1999) 18 The Economist 49.

43 Deng, FMFrontiers of sovereignty” (1995) 8/2 Leiden Journal of International Law 249. See also Kimaro, S, Lyons, T, Rothchild, D and Zartman, IWSovereignty as Responsibility: Conflict Management in Africa (1996, Brookings Institution Press).

44 Landsberg, C “The fifth wave of panAfricanism” in Adebajo, A and Rashid, IODWest Africa's Security Challenges: Building Peace in a Troubled Region (2004, Lynne Riener) 117 at 124.

45 Africa's Responsibility To Protect (2007, Cape Town Centre for Conflict Resolution) at 15.

46 Genocide Convention, above at note 15, art 1.

47 Preamble: Laws and Customs of War on Land, Hague Convention II (1899); Preamble: Laws and Customs of War on Land, Hague Convention IV (1907). Available at: <http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/lawwar.asp> (last accessed 14 April 2008).

48 Sarkin, JThe historical origins, convergence and interrelationship of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law and international law: Their application from at least the nineteenth century” (2007) 1/1 Human Rights and International Legal Discourse 125 at 137.

49 ICISS The Responsibility to Protect, above at note 41 at para 2.29.

50 Id at para 10.

51 Id at para 13.

52 Hamilton, RThe responsibility to protect: From document to doctrine – but what of implementation?” (2006) 19 Harvard Human Rights Law Journal 289 at 289.

53 See further Sidhu, WP “Regionalisation of peace operations” in Eide, EB (ed) Effective Multilateralism: Europe, Regional Security and a Revitalised UN (2006, Foreign Policy Centre) 32.

54 Id at xi.

55 See Daly, E and Sarkin, JReconciliation in Divided Societies: Finding Common Ground (2007, University of Pennsylvania Press).

56 ICISS The Responsibility to Protect, above at note 41 at para 4.18.

57 Id at para 4.19.

58 Military and Paramilitary Activities in and Against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v United States) 1986 ICJ (27 June).

59 Id at paras 267–68.

60 Powell “The African Union's emerging peace and security regime”, above at note 25 at 7.

61 A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility: Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change (2005, United Nations).

62 Id at para 201.

63 Id at para 203.

64 UN General Assembly, 2005 World Summit Outcome: UN doc A/60/L.1 (15 September 2005).

65 A More Secure World, above at note 61 at para 135.

66 CERD/C/67/1 14 October 2005.

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71 UN News Centre press release: “Secretary General appoints special adviser to focus on responsibility to protect” (21 February 2008, UN News Centre), available at: <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25702&Cr=ki-moon&Cr1> (last accessed 16 April 2008).

72 Press release: “Launch of new global centre against mass atrocity crimes” (14 February 2008, The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect).

73 Including Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda, the UK, the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, and the Open Society Institute.

74 See further Project Ploughshares Responsibility to Protect, above at note 8.

75 Kindiki, KThe normative and institutional framework of the African Union relating to the protection of human rights and the maintenance of international peace and security: A critical appraisal” (2003) 3 African Human Rights Law Journal 97 at 98.

76 Various processes in the latter part of the 1990s led to NEPAD. Firstly, the OAU adopted the Millennium Africa Recovery Plan (MAP). Later MAP became part of the New African Initiative which became NEPAD.

77 “Declaration on a Framework for an OAU Response to Unconstitutional Changes in Government” (36th ordinary session of heads of state and government of the OAU, Lomé, Togo, 10–12 July 2000) AHG/Decl 5 (XXXVI).

78 See Kioko, BThe right of intervention under the African Union's Constitutive Act: From non-interference to non-intervention” (2003) 85 International Review of the Red Cross 821 at 852.

79 See further Muyangwa, M and Vogt, MAAn Assessment of the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, 1993–2000 (2002, International Peace Academy).

80 AU Constitutive Act, art 3(a).

81 Id, art 4(a).

82 Id, art 4(i).

83 Id, art 4(f).

84 Id, art 4(b).

85 Id, art 4(e).

86 Id, art 4(o).

87 Id, art 4(p).

88 Id, art 3(5).

89 Id, art 4(m).

90 Id, art 4(l).

91 Id, art 4(n).

92 Id, art 4(j).

93 Id, art 4(g).

94 Id, art 4(h).

95 See Baimu, E and Sturman, KAmendment to the African Union's right to intervene: A shift from human security to regime security?” (2003) 12/2 African Security Review 37.

96 Adopted by the 1st extraordinary session of the AU Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 3 February 2003 and by the 2nd ordinary session of the AU Assembly in Maputo, Mozambique on 11 July 2003.

97 See Baimu and Sturman “Amendment to the African Union's right”, above at note 95 at 37.

98 See note 37 above.

99 World Summit Outcome, above at note 64 at para 139.

100 ACHPR/Res.117 (XXXXII) 07: resolution on strengthening the responsibility to protect in Africa (42nd ordinary session held in Brazzaville, DRC, 15–28 November 2007).

101 Ibid.

102 Berman, EAfrican regional organisations’ peace operations: Developments and challenges” (2002) 11/4 African Security Review 33 at 34.

103 See for example Jackson, RThe dangers of regionalising international conflict management: The African experience” (2002) 52/1 Political Science 41.

104 BF Franke “In defence of regional peace operations in Africa” (26 February 2006) available at: <http://jha.ac/articles/a185.pdf> (last accessed 16 April 2008).

105 S Mbogo “African peacekeeping force development continues despite funding challenges” (2006) World Politics Watch, available at: <http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/Article.aspx?id=429> (last accessed 16 April 2008).

106 Berman, E and Sams, KPeacekeeping in Africa: Capabilities and Culpabilities (2000, UN Institute for Disarmament Research) at 113.

107 African Peer Review Mechanism APRM Base Document, available at: <http://www.uneca.org/aprm/Documents/APRM%20Base%20Document.pdf> (last accessed 17 April 2008). 27 states have acceded to this mechanism and five have already been through the process. See further Overview Paper on The Role of the APRM in Strengthening Governance in Africa: Opportunities and Constraints in Implementation (2007 UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa).

108 See further Lloyd, A and Murray, RInstitutions with responsibility for human rights protection under the African Union” (2004) 48/2 Journal of African Law 165.

109 Report on the Elaboration of a Framework Document on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (2006, AU Executive Council) at 3.

110 AU Protocol Establishing the Peace and Security Council, art 2.

111 Id, art 2.

112 Id, art 7(h).

113 Id, art 7(i).

114 Id, art 7(n).

115 Id, art 7(j).

116 Id, art 7(k).

117 Id, art 7(m).

118 Id, art 7(g).

119 Id, art 7(f).

120 Id, art 7(o).

121 Id, art 7(p).

122 Id, art 7(r).

123 Id, art 20.

124 Quoted in Powell “The African Union's emerging peace and security regime”, above at note 25 at 1.

125 Res 1545, S/Res/1545 (2004), 21 May 2004. See Holt, VK and Shanahan, MKAfrican Capacity-Building for Peace Operations: UN Collaboration with the African Union and ECOWAS (2005, Stimson Center) at 49.

126 AU press release: “The chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) expresses his concern over the events in Mauritania” (3 August 2005, African Union).

127 Peace and Security Council press release: PSC/PR/Stat.(XXXVI)-(ii) “Statement” (2005, African Union).

128 See further Guicherd, CThe AU in Sudan: Lessons for the African Standby Force (2007, International Peace Academy).

129 Murithi, TThe African Union's evolving role in peace operations: The African Union Mission in Burundi, the African Union Mission in Sudan and the African Union Mission in Somalia” (2008) 17/1 African Security Review 70 at 80.

130 Murithi, TThe responsibility to protect, as enshrined in article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union” (2007) 16/3 African Security Review 14.

131 UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa “The emerging role of the AU and ECOWAS in conflict prevention and peacebuilding” (background paper prepared for expert group meeting, 28 December 2007) at para 56.

132 See <http://www.ecowas.int/> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

133 H Bakhoum “ECOWAS as regional peace broker”, available at: <http://www.bmlv.gv.at/pdf_pool/publikationen/sorting_out_the_mess_ecowas_regional_peace_broker_h_bakhoum.pdf> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

134 See <http://www.ecowas.cc/paps.php#ECOMOG> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

135 Bakhoum “ECOWAS as regional peace broker”, above at note 133.

136 Res 1464, S/Res/1464 (2003), 4 February 2003. See Holt and Shanahan African Capacity-Building, above at note 125.

137 Res 1497, S/Res/1497 (2003), 1 August 2003. See Holt and Shanahan id at 49.

138 ECOWAS Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace-Keeping and Security, art 52, available at: <http://www.iss.co.za/af/regorg/unity_to_union/pdfs/ecowas/ConflictMecha.pdf> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

139 See <http://www.court.ecowas.int/> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

140 See for example ECOWAS press release: “ECOWAS electoral observers in Sénégal” (press release no 11/2007, 25 February 2007, Abuja) and ECOWAS press release “ECOWAS observers to be deployed in Nigeria for general elections” (press release no 28/2007, 4 April 2007, Abuja).

141 ECOWAS press release: “Heads of election management bodies establish [sic]” (Press release008/2008, 9 February 2008, Conakry).

142 ECOWAS Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security (1999), art 25.

143 Ibid.

144 Ibid.

145 See <http://www.ecowas.int/> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

146 Comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

147 See draft Protocol for the Establishment of the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (2005, IGAD), available at: <http://www.iss.org.za/AF/RegOrg/unity_to_union/pdfs/igad/easbrigfeb04prot.pdf> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

148 See <http://www.africa-union.org/Recs/IGAD_Profile.pdf> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

149 J Young “Weaknesses of IGAD mediation in the Sudan peace process” (28 January 2008) Sudan Tribune at 5.

150 “Tackle roots of deadly Africa cattle raids – IGAD” (28 May 2007) Reuters Alertnet, available at: <http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/B331348.htm> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

151 Comprising Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.

152 Comprising Angola, Burundi, Comoros, DRC, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

153 See <http://www.easbrig.org/about.php> (last accessed 3 December 2007).

154 Comprising Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

155 See <http://www.sadc.int/english/about/profile/index.php> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

156 The Southern African Development Coordination Conference was established in 1980 and was transformed into SADC in 1992.

157 Berman, EG and Sams, KEConstructive engagement: Western efforts to develop African peacekeeping” (1998) 33 ISS Monograph 1 at 9.

158 See Likoti, FJThe 1998 military intervention in Lesotho: SADC peace mission or resource war?” (2007) 14/2 International Peacekeeping 251.

159 Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (2001), art 2.

160 Id, art 11(2).

161 Id, art 3.

162 Id, art 11(3)(c).

163 Id, art 11(3)(d).

164 Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation, objective 1, available at: <http://www.sadc.int/content/english/key_documents/sipo/sipo_en.pdf> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

165 See <http://www.ceeac-eccas.org/> (last accessed 3 December 2007).

166 See further Kent, V and Malan, MThe African standby force: Progress and prospects” (2003) 12/3 African Security Review 29.

167 AU “Experts’ meeting on the relationship between the AU and the regional mechanisms for conflict prevention, management and resolution” (March 2005), available at: <http://www.africa-union.org/root/au/AUC/Departments/PSC/Asf/doc/ASF%20roadmap.doc> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

168 Comprising Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

169 Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo and Tunisia.

171 Juma, M and Mengistu, AThe Infrastructure of Peace in Africa: Assessing the Peacebuilding Capacity of African Institutions (2002, International Peace Academy).

172 A de Waal “Darfur and the failure of the responsibility to protect” (2007) 83/6 International Affairs 1039 at 1054.

173 See further Marshall, MG and Gurr, TRPeace and Conflict 2005: A Global Survey of Armed Conflicts, Self-determination Movements, and Democracy (2005, Centre for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland) at 39–40.

174 See <http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=529> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

175 Ibid.

176 UN press release 2008 “Kenya: UN genocide adviser urges end to violence in Kenya, sends staffer there” (28 January 2008, UN News Service), available at <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25425&Cr=kenya&Cr1> (last accessed 17 April 2008).

177 Archbishop D Tutu “Taking the responsibility to protect” (19 February 2008) International Herald Tribune.

* Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Hofstra University School of Law, Hempstead, New York, USA; BA LLB (University of Natal (Durban); LLM (Harvard Law School); and LLD (University of the Western Cape). Attorney in South Africa and in the state of New York, USA. Member of the UN working group on enforced and involuntary disappearances. My thanks to Amy Senier for her assistance with this article.

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The Role of the United Nations, the African Union and Africa's Sub-Regional Organizations in Dealing with Africa's Human Rights Problems: Connecting Humanitarian Intervention and the Responsibility to Protect

  • Jeremy Sarkin

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