Ensuring peacekeepers' respect for international humanitarian law
Inducing compliance with international humanitarian law : lessons from the African Great Lakes Region
Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2015
Since 1999, the mandates of UN peacekeeping forces regularly include an undertaking to protect civilians coupled with expanding authorities to use force. This development has been welcomed as a way to prevent violations of international humanitarian law. However, Siobhán Wills takes a more sceptical view of these changes in UN peacekeeping. In this contribution, she stresses that the effectiveness of the mandate to protect civilians is determined by the resources of the mission, its other aims, its relation to the host State and other local stakeholders, as well as the interest of the troop-contributing nations. On the basis of a case study about peacekeeping in the DRC and other African States, she illustrates the dilatory effect of these variables. These findings are aggravated if UN peacekeepers' complicity with the host State's violations of international law is at stake, or if peacekeepers themselves violate international humanitarian law. Therefore, Wills suggests revising the understanding of peacekeepers' obligations under international humanitarian law through, inter alia, an extensive interpretation of Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions which would require peacekeepers to react to violations of the Conventions by others, provided the peacekeepers are able to do so.