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Guerrilla Warfare: A Need to Revise Humanitarian Laws?

The concept of International Humanitarian Law was coined by the international community between the 19th and 20th centuries to protect civilians and those resigned from any more hostilities. This law is enshrined within the 1949 Geneva Conventions, with mostly all countries and global communities signatories to it. However, sovereign states are currently abandoning the laws and rules as terrorist and armed groups are becoming highly skilled in using civilians as a cover in Guerrilla warfare.
On Dec. 3, 2023, the Nigerian government in its effort to rid the country of terrorist groups such as the notorious Boko Haram and other violent splinter groups in the north of the country, killed dozens of civilians indiscriminately. According to Amnesty International, the Nigerian Air Force launched an airstrike on a religious gathering at a village in Kaduna State, killing dozens of people. While concerned citizens ran towards the chaos and carnage, a second strike struck, killing more civilians.
As a result, the victims were buried in two mass graves the next day. Upon a request for accountability by the media and citizens, the Nigerian military blamed the unfortunate incident on guerrilla fighters, who embedded themselves with innocent civilians. Hence, the victims were merely casualties of war.
Unfortunately, the same scenario is playing in the Gaza Strip as the war between Israel’s IDF and Hamas continues with no end in sight. Innocent civilians continue to pay the price as they’re caught between two warring parties.
Nigeria, being a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Convention, needs to do more to ensure the safety of its citizens despite the threat to national security by armed insurgents. 
The right to life, freedom, and dignity of persons remains one of the fundamental bedrocks of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Therefore, there’s no compromise that would require a sovereign state to revise its humanitarian law.


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