IHL 2.0: Is There a Role for Social Media in Monitoring and Enforcement?

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This article will examine the opportunities and limitations of using social media in the execution of legal duties relating to the monitoring and enforcement of IHL. The article will first provide an overview of social media. Next, it will briefly summarise the normative framework of IHL as well as the legal duties of the primary actors and promoters of IHL (for example, states, the UN, NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross and courts) to monitor and enforce these rules. The article will then address specific legal obligations relating to IHL monitoring and enforcement and the impact of social media on meeting these requirements.

Throughout, the article will use case studies from several conflict zones, including Sudan, Uganda, Mexico, Somalia, Gaza and Libya. The article will conclude that social media can play a critical role in promoting IHL education, and monitoring for potential violations. The benefits of this technology, however, are less clear for carrying out legal obligations related to the enforcement of IHL, such as fact-finding, arrest and prosecution. It is essential, therefore, that clear guidelines for utilising this quickly evolving technology, particularly in official fact-finding and judicial frameworks, be established.

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