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Not the Usual Suspects: Religious Leaders as Influencers of International Humanitarian Law Compliance

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JournalYearbook of International Humanitarian Law
DateSubmitted - 18 Feb 2020
DateAccepted/In press - 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Oct 2020
DatePublished (current) - 1 Dec 2020
Pages (from-to)125-150
Early online date29/10/20
Original languageEnglish


It is undeniable that the effectiveness of international humanitarian law (IHL) faces challenges from different quarters. To address these, humanitarian organizations have, in the main, pursued a direct engagement strategy with the parties to a conflict. Although this has remained the dominant strategy to date, in the last two decades the humanitarian sector has, on an ad hoc basis and without the benefit of a solid evidence base, engaged other societal actors identified as having the potential to influence parties to armed conflict, and among them religious leaders. This chapter addresses the role of these leaders in influencing compliance (or lack thereof) with IHL by States and non-State armed groups. In particular, two issues are explored: 1) what makes religious leaders influential among their constituencies?, and 2) how can they be useful actors to increase respect for IHL in armed conflict?

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    Research areas

  • international humanitarian law, religious leaders, compliance, legitimacy

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