EVALUATING THE APPLICATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW IN INTERNAL ARMED CONFLICTS: SIERRA LEONE AND LIBERIA AS CASE STUDIES
1.1 Background of Study
Within the modern regime of international law a branch has evolved referred to as law of armed conflict popularly known as International Humanitarian Law (IHL). International Humanitarian Law is found in the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Out of the 195 independent sovereign states in the world, virtually all the states have agreed to be bound by them . The Conventions have been developed and supplemented by two further agreements. Additional Protocols of 1977
(I) and (II) relating to the protection of victims of armed conflict 2. The States parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions have entrusted International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) through the statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, to work for the understanding and dissemination of knowledge of International Humanitarian Law, applicable in armed conflict and to prepare any development thereof. International Humanitarian Law distinguishes two types of armed conflict namely;
(i) International Armed Conflicts (IAC), meaning fighting or opposition between two or more sovereign states.
(ii) Non-International armed conflicts (NIAC), meaning fighting or opposition between state and governmental forces and non-governmental armed groups.
Non-International armed conflict occur today much more frequently and entail more suffering than International Armed conflict. IHL of Non-International Armed Conflict is codified mainly in Article 3 Common to the Four Geneva Conventions for protection of war victims and the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of Non-International Armed Conflict. Others are the 1980 Convention on certain Conventional Weapons, as amended and its Protocols. The 1998 Rome Statute of the
International Criminal Court; the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning anti-personal land mines, the
1993 Chemical Weapons Conventions and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property and its second Protocol.