No Peace, No War: Protection of Civilians in the Great Lakes Region of Africa
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Africa’s Great Lakes Region (GLR) has experienced protracted armed conflicts with severe humanitarian consequences. The dynamics of armed conflicts are often complex and their epicentre shifts from one locus to another, as they expand geographically. The brutality upon innocent civilians caused either by their government’s forces or rebels include sexual violence, forced population displacement and extrajudicial, and summary or arbitrary executions. In a majority of cases, incumbent governments fail in their constitutional mandates and international obligations to protect civilians from such atrocities. While the principle of responsibility to protect (R2P) has been invoked by the United Nations Security Council to protect civilians from atrocities in Libya, it remains unclear as to the criteria used to invoke this process. That inevitably poses constraints on the operationalization of protection of civilian mandates. The Chapter adopts a functionalist approach to probe the effectiveness of the responsibility to protect, by examining its role in the protection of civilians in the Great Lakes Region. Apart from identifying gaps between lack of clarity in conceptualization and operationalization; the discussion notes that there is need for clear normative standards on when and how responsibility to protect can be invoked for future protection missions. Introduction The Great Lakes Region (GLR)1 in Africa consists of countries that essentially coalesce around Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and other smaller lakes in East and Central Africa. These countries are organised under a regional body, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Within the region, there are also other organisations with more or less similar objectives as the ICGLR, such as the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern. For purposes of this paper, Great Lakes Region (GLR) refers to the member states of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).