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Govern Publish Quality

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Published by impunitywatch

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: impunitywatch on Apr 29, 2012
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Cultural and Legal Influences and Impedimentsto Cultivating Peace and Human Rights in Islamic StatesBy Kevin Hugh Govern*
A
BSTRACT
 There are a multitude of cultural and legal influences that assist—and impediments thatresist—the cultivation of peace and human rights in Islamic states. First, there is no one single“Islamic attitude” towards the legitimacy of international law and international agreementsamong the nations which have adopted Islam as their official state religion, those which haveadopted Islamic law (
Shari’a
)
1
as their legal system, or those that have Muslims as the majorityor sizeable minority of their populations. Second, the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is perceived by some in Islamic nations as failing to take into accountthe cultural and religious context of non-Western, Islamic nations. Finally, there is afundamental requirement to categorize certain apparent or perceived differences in approaches toadvancing peace and human rights with respect to Islam. Certain practices and policies may bein
Shari’a;
others by
 
contrast may be erroneously attributed to be in
Shari’a
 but are in fact of tribal or ethnic origin and are culturally significant but not Islamic. Some practices and policies
Kevin H. Govern, J.D., LL.M., is an Associate Professor of Law at the Ave Maria School of Lawand an Instructor of Legal Studies at the California University of Pennsylvania. He has also servedas an Assistant Professor of Law at the United States Military Academy. Any errors or omissionsare solely the responsibility of the author.
1
 
Shari’a
is sometimes Anglicized into
Shari’ah
in English translations.
See
,
e.g.,
Const. of SaudiArabia, art. 8,
available at 
http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/sa00000_.html (Adopted in March 1992 by Royal decree of King Fahd);
 see
 
Countries
, I
SLAMIC
W
ORLD
 N
ET
, http://www.islamic-world.net/countries/index.htm (for a list of nations described as Muslim, Islamic, or Islamically-influenced).
 
 
2
 
are Islamic and incapable of change or variation, while other practices or policies may betheoretical or aspirational but not enforced or enforceable.This article will examine the cultural and legal influences and impediments to thecultivation of peace and human rights in Islamic states. Part one considers the current context of war and peace in Islamic states, recounting the turbulence in large part inherent within moststates and regions influenced by Islam. To understand why these conditions exist, and how theymight change for the better or worse, part two examines how words and deeds matter under bothIslamic law and as binding obligations under International law. Consistent with that study of words and deeds, in part three there are contemporary obligations and eternal covenants that ratecommentary and show how regional and international alliances and treaties under Islamic lawaffect peace and human rights. Part four adds an additional layer of historical perspective of past being prologue regarding tribal influences, non-legal traditions, as well as laws and treatieswhich may affect the advancement of peace and human rights. Finally, in part five, the so-called“Twitter Revolutions” of 2010-2011 posits how social media and electronic dissemination of knowledge have been indispensable to the (re)establishment of peace, human rights, and politicallegitimacy in an ever-growing number of Islamic states. It is my hope that this five-part surveywill aid readers to more deeply appreciate the matters discussed on the promotion of peace andwaging of war, and the means of preserving and promoting the integrity and dignity of all human beings, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
 
 
3
 
I. T
HE
C
URRENT
C
ONTEXT OF
W
AR AND
P
EACE
I
 N
I
SLAMIC
S
TATES
 The so-called “Global War on Terror(ism),” or GWOT, now restyled as “OverseasContingency Operations,” or OCOs,
2
predominantly focuses on the clash between Westerndemocracy and the
al-Qa’eda
terrorist network, while only secondarily striving to create or foster conditions for peace, stability, or promotion of human rights. That is because the latter effort is far more daunting and difficult.A coalition of nations, including but not limited to the U.S., have been targeting well over a dozen Islamic terror groups and engaging in cooperative ventures with many nations that haveIslamic law heritages or substantial Muslim majority or minority populations. Such coalitionalefforts still operate with inherent challenges of understanding the religion of Islam and thecultural expressions and institutions that may be influenced by Islam but not controlled or even prescribed by that faith. It is important to note that not all individual acts of terrorism can beassociated with fanatical political or religious ideologues,
3
nor should terrorism or even Islamicextremism be imputed to the vast majority of those in the world who peaceably practice thereligion of Islam. As previously written in 2011,[C]ountries in the Middle East and North Africa were experiencing protestsagainst political repression and economic hardship, unprecedented in scope or duration since independence from imperial domination, and resulting in the rulersin Tunisia and Egypt being ousted, and those of Bahrain, Jordan, Libya, Oman . . .Yemen and Iran [have been] challenged.
4
 
2
 
See
Scott Wilson, Al Kamen,
Global War on Terror is Given New Name,
W
ASHINGTON
P
OST
,Mar. 25, 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/24/AR2009032402818.html
 
3
 
See
J
EFFREY
F. A
DDICOTT
, T
ERRORISM
L
AW
: M
ATERIALS
, C
ASES
, C
OMMENTS
9 (4th ed.,Lawyers & Judges Publ’g Co., Inc. 2007).
4
Kevin H. Govern,
21st Century Africa as an “Arc of (In)stability”: U.S. and African Economic,Security, and Development Policies Advanced Through U.S. Africa Command Initiatives
, 26C
ONN
. J. I
 NT
L
L. 281, 286 (2011). Since the publication of that law review note, the leader of Libya was killed by rebel forces, and the leader of Yemen has sought exile in Ethiopia.
Ousted Yemeni Leader Saleh to Seek Exile in Ethiopia
, T
HE
I
 NDEPENDENT
, Feb. 28, 2012,

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