Off-campus UNL users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your NU ID and password. When you are done browsing please remember to return to this page and log out.

Non-UNL users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

The role of international humanitarian law in civil wars: Third parties and the African experience

Joshua M Ruteere, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation is about state foreign responses to violations of international humanitarian law in African civil wars. Its central concern is with the extent to which international humanitarian law obligations shape state foreign policy decisions, as opposed to calculations of narrow national interests. I first set out the legal obligations that international humanitarian law places on states in the event of civil wars in other states. In other words, what legal theory expects of states as parties to international humanitarian law agreements. I then develop a theoretical framework of state foreign policy decision-making as a two-level game, where domestic and international pressures shape foreign policy decisions. I analyze how the interaction between various actors at both levels (domestic and international) influences state foreign policy. ^ Through process tracing, I examine actual state foreign policy responses to five cases of African civil wars between 1990 and 2006: Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur, Sudan. I argue that state calculations of narrow national interests explain better why states responded the way they did, and that international legal obligation was of marginal relevance. I conclude the study with the implications of these findings to the future management of African civil wars, and to the broader understanding of state foreign policy responses to human rights violations abroad. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, International Law and Relations

Recommended Citation

Ruteere, Joshua M, "The role of international humanitarian law in civil wars: Third parties and the African experience" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3217536.