‘Peacefully’ at ‘War’: An Analysis of the Southern African Development Community’s Institutional Framework’s Failure to Respond Adequately to the Ongoing Conflict in Swaziland

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.25159/2521-2583/14810

Keywords:

constitution, democracy, dialogue, internal conflict, terrorism

Abstract

The Kingdom of Swaziland is well known for being a peaceful nation. This historical claim is supported by the fact that the little kingdom is situated between two nations that at some point engaged in armed conflict, the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Mozambique. When tensions in the two states mentioned above were at their worst, Swaziland served as a haven for those fleeing the violence. However, the little kingdom has recently been embroiled in internal conflict as demands for democratic reforms grow, and the King rebuffs attempts to overthrow his absolute authority. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) framework for resolving regional conflicts is analysed in this article, together with the ongoing conflict in the Kingdom of Swaziland. The many fact-finding missions and SADC organs’ visits to Swaziland are discussed in this article, along with how their inaction is sustaining a protracted, intense internal conflict. The study also looks at the role that state-sponsored terrorism has played in the response to the conflict by His Majesty King Mswati III's administration. The tiny kingdom is at a turning point because SADC has failed to impose its authority and because the King, despite his undertaking, has actively avoided political engagement. Furthermore, the study argues that the protracted violence in Swaziland will have detrimental effects on South Africa, which already has a fragile economy and is trying to manage the refugee surge. It concludes by positing that it would be ideal to prevent a dangerous scenario for the region if SADC intervened by asserting its authority and demanding a proper dialogue in Swaziland among all stakeholders with clear terms of reference.

References

Bartels R, ‘A Fine Line Between Protection and Humanisation: The Interplay between the Scope of Application of International Humanitarian Law and Jurisdiction over Alleged War Crimes Under International Criminal Law’ (2017) 20 Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law. <https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3207181>

Byron C, ‘Armed Conflict: International of Non-International?’ (2001) 6(1) Journal of Conflict and Security Law <https://doi.org/10.1093/jcsl/6.1.63>

Carswell AJ, ‘Classifying the Conflict: a Soldier’s Dilemma’ (2009) 91(873) International Review of the Red Cross <https://doi.org/10.1017/S1816383109990051>

Castrén E, Civil War (Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, Helsinki 1966).

Dlamini ZM, ‘King’s Governor Themba Ginindza’s “intercepted” cell conversations: We are training squad to burn political activists, their properties’ (Swaziland News, 11 September 2022) <https://www.swazilandnews.co.za/fundza.php?nguyiphi=3034> accessed 12 September 2023.

Inhlase Centre for Investigative Journalism, ‘Priority Budget for eSwatini royalty’ (Inhalse Centre for Investigative Journalism, 2022) <https://inhlase.com/priority-budget-for-eswatini-royalty/#> accessed 5 September 2023.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, ‘The International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC’s) role in situations of violence below the threshold of armed conflict Policy document’ (ICRC, February 2014) <https://international-review.icrc.org/sites/default/files/irrc-893-policy.pdf> accessed 24 October 2023.

International Monetary Fund, ‘South Africa's Economy Loses Momentum Amid Record Power Cuts’ (International Monetary Fund, 15 June 2023) see also Khangelani Moyo and Franzisca Zanker, ‘Political Contestations within South African Migration Governance’ (Arnold Bergstraesser Institut, December 2020) <https://www.arnold-bergstraesser.de/sites/default/files/political_contestations_within_south_african_migration_governance_moyo_and_zanker.pdf> accessed 24 October 2023.

Maseko T, ‘The drafting of the Constitution of Swaziland’ (2005) 8(2) African Human Rights Law Journal.

Motha S, ‘Eswatini king “uses mercenaries to torture activists”’ (Sunday World, 29 January 2023) <https://sundayworld.co.za/news/politics/eswatini-king-uses-mercenaries-to-torture-activists/> accessed 12 September 2023.

Nordiska Afrikainstitutet / The Nordic Africa Institute (NAI), ‘Peace and Security Challenges in Southern Africa: Governance Deficits and Lacklustre Regional Conflict Management: Policy Note No 4:2018’ (NAI, May 2018) <https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1206571/FULLTEXT01.pdf> accessed 24 October 2023.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Good Governance Practices for the Protection of Human Rights United Nations New-York and Geneva’ (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2007) <https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/Documents/Publications/GoodGovernance.pdf> accessed 24 October 2023

Pictet J, Humanitarian Law and the Protection of War Victims (Sijthoff 1975).

Richard Levin R, When the Sleeping Grass Awaken (Witwaterand University Press South Africa 2001).

Rogers A, ‘International humanitarian law and today’s armed conflicts’, in Stéphane Kolanowski (ed.), Proceedings of the Bruges Colloquium: Current Challenges in International Humanitarian Law (Collegium No. 21, ICRC/College of Europe, Bruges, 2001) 20; Robert McLaughlin, ‘Legal-Policy considerations and conflict characterization at the threshold between law enforcement and non-international armed conflict’ (2012) 13(1) Melbourne Journal of International Law.

Shany Y, ‘Human Rights and Humanitarian Law as Competing Legal Paradigms for Fighting Terror’, in Orna Ben-Naftali (ed.), International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law: Pas de Deux (Oxford University Press, 2011). <https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780191001604.003.0002>

US Department of State, ‘2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Eswatini’ (US Department of State, 2021) <https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/eswatini> accessed 4 August 2023.

Whitelaw I, ‘Internationalisation of Non-International Armed Conflict’ (2016) 1 Perth International Law Journal.

Yende S, ‘King Mswati thinks he owns his country – including the people’ (City Press, 19 June 2021) <https://www.news24.com/citypress/news/king-mswati-thinks-he-owns-his-country-including-the-people-20210719> accessed 20 September 2023.

Cases

ICTY, Prosecutor v Dusko Tadić, Case No. IT-94-1-A, Appeals Chamber, Decision on the Defence Motion for Interlocutory Appeal on Jurisdiction, 2 October 1995.

Prosecutor v Boškoski & Tarćulovski (Judgment) ICTY-04-82 (10 July 2008).

Prosecutor v Limaj et al. (Judgment) ICTY-03-66 (30 November 2005).

Legislation

Swaziland

Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland, 2005.

The King’s Proclamation to the Nation, 1973.

The Suppression of Terrorism Act, 2008.

The Sedition and Subversive Activities Act, 1938.

The Public Order Act, 1963.

International Instruments

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols.

Published

2023-12-26

How to Cite

Nhlabatsi, Sibusiso. 2023. “‘Peacefully’ at ‘War’: An Analysis of the Southern African Development Community’s Institutional Framework’s Failure to Respond Adequately to the Ongoing Conflict in Swaziland”. South African Yearbook of International Law 48:16 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2521-2583/14810.
Received 2023-09-20
Accepted 2023-11-14
Published 2023-12-26