The Applicability of International Humanitarian Law to Situations of Urban Violence: Are Cities Turning into War Zones?
18 Pages Posted: 16 May 2008 Last revised: 2 Oct 2014
Date Written: February 26, 2008
Cities have always experienced a degree of violence that radically differs from that of rural areas. While cities become more populated and social problems become more complex, the population faces increasing levels of violence. For example, in the last five years, there were over 20,000 gang-related murders in Guatemala. In Brazil alone, more than 100 people are killed by guns every day. This paper examines the legal regimes that regulate these new urban realities. It argues that international humanitarian law might not be the appropriate regime to provide protection as it tends to legitimize violence. However, can domestic law enforcement regimes and human rights adequately prevent the suffering of innocent victims and the recruitment of children into organized gangs? The paper suggests that the Inter-American System of Human Rights might provide some answers.
Keywords: urban violence, international humanitarian law
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