EVALUATING THE APPLICATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW IN INTERNAL ARMED CONFLICTS: SIERRA LEONE AND LIBERIA AS CASE STUDIES
International Humanitarian Law is applicable to Internal Armed conflict situations as provided by Article 3 Common to the Four Geneva Conventions 1949 and their Additional Protocol II of 1977.Provisions of these two Legal Regimes apply during extreme violence. Determining whether a particular situation is an Internal Armed Conflict is a question one should put in mind. Again even if a situation is determined to be an Internal Armed Conflict how do parties in an extreme violence implement and comply with these rules seem to be very difficult. In most situations, states deny a situation in their territory to be an armed conflict. They prefer to address the situation to be Internal Tensions and Disturbances which are not recognized by International Humanitarian Law. The research work aims at emphasizing on the compliance of International Humanitarian Law during extreme violence. The research work aims at enlightening the readers that International Humanitarian Law is Applicable to internal armed conflict that is within the confines of a single state. The objective of this research work is to show that states like Liberia and Sierra Leone and any other state facing the same armed conflict can begin to end the culture of impunity and bring in a sustainable peace by compliance with the rules of International Humanitarian Law. The working method chosen is more of a doctrinal approach which is qualitative in order to reach an understanding of the current position of Internal Armed Conflict and rules applicable to their violent activities. The primary source of materials for this research works are the Treaty Laws, textbooks, law reports and journals on international humanitarian law. The research work observed that the Armed Conflicts of Sierra Leone and Liberia have all the prerequisite conditions postulated by Common Articles 3 and Additional Protocol II to be applicable. The research work made some recommendations such Dialogue and Negotiation Common Article 3 and Additional Protocol II has laid down the minimum standard of rules that determines a conflict to be an internal armed conflict. That is whether the state is part of the conflict or not should engage into dialogue or negotiations with opposition armed groups than refuse to listen to the yearnings of the opposition groups. Again the research work recommended Ceasefire Agreement in situations where the parties in the armed conflict are unable to implement and comply with the rules of IHL. That is there should be ceasefire from both parties as first attempt. In a ceasefire arrangement, parties to the conflict primary aim are to suspend hostilities. This helps parties to be committed to implement specific IHL obligations and avoid violating IHL. And even if hostilities resumes, it will help to remind the parties their obligations under IHL. The research work recommended the Domestication Internal Armed Conflict Rules that is states that are parties to Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols domesticate in their laws the rules of Common Article 3 and its Additional Protocol II and to observe their implementation. This ties the states to international obligations. This will avoid states from denying that Internal Armed Conflict exists in their territory.