PROTECTING CIVILIANS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR: THE OBLIGATION TO RESPECT BASIC PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW
Keywords:International Humanitarian Law, Civilian population, Armed Conflict, Protection, Russia-Ukraine War
Records, as of 26th June 2022 show that at least 4,731 civilians have lost their lives, 5,900 civilians injured, more than 12.8 million civilians displaced, and many towns and cities leveled in the Russia-Ukraine war. This is a large-scale violation of the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) that facilitate the protection of the civilian population. The situation raises serious concern for IHL against the backdrop that IHL exists to among other things protect the civilian population against the effects of armed conflicts. Adopting doctrinal methodology and the review of relevant literature, this paper examines the protection of the civilian population in the Russia-Ukraine war and the obligation of the parties in effecting this protection; with the view of making recommendations geared towards strengthening the protection of the civilian population. This paper identifies the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution as important means of ensuring human protection. It posits that these basic principles are being fragrantly violated in the Russia-Ukraine war. The paper argues that the protection of the civilian population is an obligation imposed on the parties to the Russia-Ukraine war under IHL. The paper further argues that this obligation can be discharged through respect for these basic principles. Thus, the extent to which the parties to the conflict respect these basic principles, determines the extent to which the civilian population will be protected in the said war.