Review Essay of Siobhán Wills, Protecting Civilians: The Obligations of Peacekeepers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp xxi, 296, ISBN 978-0-19-953387-9
McGill Law Journal, Vol. 57, No. 2 (2011) 383-392
10 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2012 Last revised: 20 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2011
The last two decades have witnessed the highest ever involvement of United Nations’ blue helmets in peacekeeping missions throughout the world. These international missions, as Siobhán Wills observes, consist of different types of peace and enforcement operations, including conflict prevention, peacemaking, peace enforcement, peace building, and humanitarian operations. The engagement of UN troops in civilian protection operations in the world’s war-torn areas has resulted in several complications concerning their mandates to protect civilians from harm on the one hand, and their entanglement in human rights violations on the other.
In light of these developments, a fresh look into the norms of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law is necessary to remind troops of their obligation to protect civilians from human rights abuses and, at the same time, hold members of these missions accountable for alleged crimes and violations. Thus, the purpose of Protecting Civilians, the Obligations of Peacekeepers is to examine in depth international humanitarian and human rights law instruments and demonstrate how these laws impose obligations on UN peacekeepers and other multinational forces to protect civilians in war-torn areas of the world, including intervention to prevent or stop human rights violations and restore law in UN-occupied areas.
Keywords: Peacekeeping, UN Charter, responsibility to protect, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, war crimes, crimes against humanity, legal accountability
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