Non-Interference or Non-Indifference. The Role of the African Union in the Development of Norms on Protecting Civilians and the Conflict in Darfur.
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The Battle of Mogadishu, the Rwandan genocide, the massacre in Srebrenica, and the consequent reaction against intervention in the 1990s, spurred to action those who wanted to protect civilians while respecting sovereignty. In 1999 African leaders decided to form the African Union, proactive in responding to threats to civilians, to prevent a recurrence of an atrocity akin to the Rwandan genocide. The organization had the power to intervene to protect civilians when atrocities loomed. Many Africans could not abide by the idea of the West and former colonial powers coming to their aid. The Union was an attempt to create an African solution to the problem of civilian protection. In 2005, all United Nations member states agreed to a norm on the responsibility to protect civilians, comparable to the African predecessor. Changing attitudes is not a straightforward task, and much work is required still to prioritize protecting civilians over safeguarding sovereignty. The role of the African Union in the development of norms on civilian protection is under-researched, and the goal of this thesis is to address this gap in knowledge with a historical account of norms about civilian protection based on primary sources from the Union itself. This thesis utilizes social-constructivist theories of norms to analyze the historical development of norms on protecting civilians from 1990-2005. The conflict in the Darfur region in Sudan in 2003-2004 provides a case study that concerns norm development in an African context permitting analysis of the African Union response. This thesis aims to connect research on norm development regarding civilian protection in the African Union with such study in a global context.