Binding Non-State Armed Groups to International Humanitarian Law : Geneva Call and the Ban of Anti-personnel mines :Lessons from Sudan

Herr, Stefanie


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Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: IFGK - Institut für Friedensarbeit und gewaltfreie Konfliktaustragung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 95
ISBN: 978-3-942532-05-1
Sprache: Deutsch
Erstellungsjahr: 2010
Publikationsdatum: 23.10.2011
Originalveröffentlichung: (2010)
SWD-Schlagwörter: Sudan , Geneva Call , Bekämpfung , Antipersonenmine, Kooperation , Paramilitärischer Verband, Nichtstaatlicher Akteur
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.76 (Friedensforschung, Konfliktforschung), 86.85 (Menschenrechte)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

Since the end of the Second World War the majority of armed conflicts has no longer been fought between states but takes place within the territory of a single state. At least one non-state armed group (NSAG) is involved. In such conflicts NSAGs challenge state- and peace-building processes with violent or criminal acts. Furthermore, by directly affecting peoples’ physical security and by undermining state authority they also pose a dangerous threat to human security. The daily life of many civilians is severely endangered by their existence. One violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) which is committed by nonstate armed groups is the use of anti-personnel mines (AP mines or APMs). APMs are indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. They still maim and kill ordinary people every day: Hardly any other weapon claims so many human lives. Consequently, in 1997 the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti- Personnel Mines and on their Destruction was adopted. The so-called Ottawa-Treaty completely bans all anti-personnel mines. Despite this, the goal of a world free of mines is still not realized. While it is true that the number of states using APMs has decreased in the last decade, APMs are, nonetheless, far more frequently deployed by non-state actors. Armed groups often have fewer military resources than states, and are therefore more likely to resort to the use of landmines. In spite of its significance, the Ottawa Treaty provides no opportunity for NSAGs to express their willingness to abide by its norms. However, the findings above demonstrate that global norms such as the ban of anti-personnel mines, must also apply for NSAGs in order to achieve a mine-free world. Besides, empirical evidence shows that it is quite possible to bind non-state actors to humanitarian norms. One pioneering initiative in engaging NSAGs is Geneva Call, an NGO based in Geneva, Switzerland. Since 2000, the organization is dedicated to engage armed non-state actors towards compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law and human rights law, starting with a total ban on anti-personnel mines. The engagement of the NGOs began with the development of a Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action (referred to below as the Deed of Commitment, DoC). Through signing the Deed of Commitment armed groups commit themselves to stop the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. In addition a ban on AP mines and the general idea of humanitarian norms, the Deed of Commitment also specifies implementation and monitoring mechanisms. In this way, Geneva Call involves NSAGs directly in obligations to observe humanitarian norms. Negotiations between Geneva Call and armed groups are often meetings of a special kind: Most recently, in June 2009 representatives of 28 NSAGs met in Geneva and discussed possibilities for binding armed groups to IHL. Since its launch, Geneva Call has engaged in dialogue with more than 60 NSAGs worldwide. Of these, so far 41 groups from Asia, Europe and Africa have signed the Deed of Commitment. Geneva Call's engagement is outstanding in two ways: On the one hand, the NGO functions as a norm entrepreneur vis-à-vis non-state armed actors and not (like other NGOs) vis-à-vis states or corporations. On the other hand, with the DoC Geneva Call has established an innovative mechanism, with which NSAGs can commit themselves to humanitarian law and for the first time become signatories to an internationally respected treaty. The very notion of an adherence to the mine ban norm by NSAGs seems at first glance to contradict the conventional assumption that NSAGs have in principle only limited interest in accepting norms, because they do not regard themselves as bound by international treaties. However, latest the success of Geneva Call shows that non-state armed groups can no longer be regarded only as a challenger to peace governance. By signing the Deed of Commitment, NSAGs are achieving a new position in a global normative order. Because successful integration of NSAGs requires comprehensive understanding of these groups, the present report asks how a norm acceptance by NSAGs can be explained. If we learn more about the conditions under which integration of these actors proceeds successfully, recommendations for practice can also be worked out. Thus, the goal was to investigate why NSAGs voluntarily commit themselves to humanitarian norms. For this purpose, with the help of process-analytic procedures the norm acceptance of one NSAG – the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) – was investigated. As one of the first NSAGs to do so, the SPLM/A signed the Deed of Commitment in 2001, although at that time it was still engaged in conflict with the government. The analysis showed that a number of factors played a role in their acceptance of the norm. On the one hand, transnational pressure influenced the decision of the SPLM/A to sign the DoC. Transnational strategies of shaming them had an influence on this NSAG, particularly because they had a strong need for legitimacy and consequently feared a loss of reputation. The analysis also showed that a “shadow of future statehood” not only increases an NSAG’s need for legitimacy but also raises their awareness about the material costs a later assumption of power would entail. Their concern that they would not be able to carry out the rebuilding of their country on their own contributed decisively to the norm acceptance by the SPLM/A. In the case investigated in this report, finally, humanitarian issues also played a role in the signing of the Deed of Commitment. Within the NSAG, it was primarily the function of two former SPLM/A commanders which was decisive. These two played the role of norm entrepreneurs within the movement, and directed the attention of the SPLM/A leadership to negative consequences of the use of landmines. Consequently, no single explanatory factor can be identified for the norm acceptance by the SPLM/A. Instead, the signing of the Deed of Commitment can be attributed to a combination of factors, each of which accounts for the decision to accept the norm. The results obtained make it possible to draw a few conclusions on possible starting points for the international community for possible engagement strategies with non-state armed groups. On the one hand, it seems promising to change the cost-benefit calculation of the norm-violating NSAG in such a way that the costs of norm violation exceed its benefits. This is possible by denouncing an NSAG so that it is concerned about its reputation; but may also be possible if external actors threaten to withdraw their (financial) support in the event of a further norm violation. The offer to support an NSAG in clearing mines in the area they control can decisively influence its renunciation of AP mines. On the other hand, the example of the SPLM/A shows, that an NSAG can also be convinced of the appropriateness of a norm through dialog. The finding also suggests that governance initiatives beyond a state-centered, hierarchical and repressive mode of governance are more effective in dealing with nonstate armed actors: For NGOs questions of state sovereignty and non-interference are not as decisive as these are to states. A possibility for state actors thus offers itself through the employment of NGOs for including non-state armed groups in a political order.

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