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Pre-colonial African communities had a well-established system of human rights protection applicable to armed conflicts, which became lost as a result of the break-up of traditional societies. This paper will show that traditional rules can be revived and integrated into future conflict management efforts. The ancient authentically African roots of international humanitarian law (ihl) could serve as receptors forming the basis for ihl and human rights law dissemination. Listening to local communities and learning about their aspirations and cultural practices should inform the peacebuilding programmes which need to be introduced before the cessation of hostilities. In the long run, engaging the armed non-state actors in the development of norms, could help improve certainty and predictability of ihl. Recent efforts by Geneva Call comprising a study of indigenous cultural norms relating to civilians’ protection in Mali underline the growing importance of integrating local approaches in ihl dissemination.

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In: Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies