LAW OF ARMED CONFLICTS IN AFRICA: A STUDY OF THE LIBERIAN CIVIL WAR

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ABSTRACT

This work is on the Law of Armed Conflicts in Africa: A Study of the Liberian Civil War. In the Liberian Civil War, unprecedented war crimes were committed in spite of the existence of the law of armed conflicts. Hence, Liberia is a country with many ethnic groups, dominated by American freed slaves (Americo-Liberians). The Americo-Liberians constitute about seven percent (7%) of the Liberian population, who are still playing major roles in the present-day Liberian politics. The dominated groups differed radically in culture, degree of political cohesion, organization, ability and resolution to resist the domination of the Americo-Liberians and responsiveness to modernization. These ethnic wrangling sparked off the seven – year bloody civil war in Liberia. Therefore, this work is to examine the factors responsible for the violations of the law of armed conflicts in Liberian civil war (1989-1996). Equally,
the nature and character of the gross violations of the law will be addressed in the said civil war. Further, conceptual discussions on the law of armed conflicts and its mechanisms of enforcement will as well be offered in respect of the civil war in Liberia. In other to achieve this, the work has been divided into seven chapters, which will be discussed in line with the posed research questions. Chapter One is the
Introduction; Chapter Two is the Law of Armed Conflicts; Chapter Three centers on the Mechanism for the Enforcement of International Law of Armed Conflicts; Chapter Four dwells on The Nature and Character of the Violations of International Law of War in the Liberian Civil War; Chapter Five is on The Institutional Mechanism of Enforcement of International Law of Armed Conflicts in the Liberian Civil War; Chapter Six examines The Observance of Human Rights and Conduct of Hostility in Liberia; while Chapter Seven is the Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations. We adopted the observation method for a descriptive study of this nature. Relevant data were generated from primary and secondary sources of institutional and official documents as well as textbooks, journals, magazines and other written studies. Our research design was based on ex-post facto model and our hypotheses were tested using the logical data framework. The hypotheses include:
i. In operational conduct and occupation, irregular warfare tends to disregard the provisions of International law of war.
ii. Guerrilla warfare tends to grossly violate enforcement action of the International law of war.
iii. Unconventional observance of the rules of warfare in civil war tends to relegate the observance of human rights.
In conclusion, the International law of war was breached in the Liberian civil war with impunity, not minding the existence of the United Nations, shouting on daily basis about the sanctions meted for war criminals.
Accordingly, we recommended thus: First, the nature of warfare should be spelt out as to whether to be conventional or unconventional by the parties involved. Secondly, children should not be conscripted
into child soldiers in any combat. Again, African Union should ensure adequate existence of command and control of their men in the battlefield. Finally, Liberia should move beyond political and social conflict to peace, reconciliation, development, and ultimate prosperity in this 21st century.
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