Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Law (SJD)



First Advisor

Professor Dr. Christian N. Okeke

Second Advisor

Professor Dr. Sophie Clavier

Third Advisor

Professor Dr. Zakia Afrin


This doctoral dissertation examines and studies the protection of women rights under International Humanitarian Law, (also “IHL”) within the context of the social, cultural and political and political conditions with particular reference to the women of Iraq and Palestine. Women in these two countries have suffered unparalleled difficulties that have been afflicted upon them by conditions of war. For a long period in the history of those countries, women as indispensable managers of their families have had to contend with varying challenges necessitating protection under international humanitarian law. This is even more required during periods of war and armed conflicts.

Chapter I opens with a brief definition of International Humanitarian Law, of which there are at least a half dozen working definitions; thereafter follows, a short discussion of each of several documents that have relevance to international humanitarian law. These include one of the oldest documents known. It was actually a stone slab, into which was chiseled several hundred codes pertaining to and governing the citizens of ancient Babylon. Next we shall go to ancient India and consider a volume of her most ancient texts: the Laws of Manu, over 2500 years old; this text regulated affairs of domestic, social and religious life, among many other facets of life in India. Then, we get to the Christian era, where the most avid teachers of a new religion taught having respect for others as if they were your sister or brother. This chapter also presents an overview of early Islamic Law, as well as, the Magna Carta, the latter being a giant step forward for humanitarian concerns in Western Europe. Chapter I concludes with a survey of the all-important Hague and Geneva Conventions, the Additional Protocols to those four Conventions, and finally the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Chapter One provides the background against which we consider the rights of women, and to some extent, civilians, whether man, woman, or child.

Chapter II provides a brief descriptive survey of general protection of civilian women. It provides case examples of Iraqi and Palestinian women prisoners; discusses general protection of civilian women under the 1977 First Additional Protocol, principles of protection of civilian women under the Four Geneva Accords, the Additional Protocols and the United Nations, and introduces the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against women, 1979, as well as the 1995 Peking Declaration and Women’s Special Protocol.

Chapter III highlights the special protection for women as prisoners of war, and during various military operations. The concerns here change depending on whether women are only civilians, or are participating in military operations, which include the very controversial suicide bombing. This chapter delves into several areas of research, among them, treatment of detained and jailed women. Chapter IV continues with discussion of protecting women from capital punishment, and most particularly, the prohibition of capital punishment against pregnant women, women with children, and children themselves.

Chapter V discusses other protections of women, including special aid and assistance rights commensurate to their needs based on their gender. This chapter discusses negative and positive provisions. The negative provisions state what not to do, such as carry out military attacks on women and other civilians, and the positive state what should be done; such as provide adequate food, water, and shelter.

Chapter VI discusses protecting women from the harms of military combat. The chapter points to the relevant international agreements that list and provide for protections against listed war crimes. Here we explore the more common convention base remedies, which include compensation, as they pertain to those crimes, and other misbehavior. This chapter also explores national agreements designed to help women in both Iraq and Palestine. In Chapter VII we take a look at the current conditions that women in Iraq have been enduring for the past fifty years, and more so during the past thirty years, which have been three decades of war along the Persian Gulf. We shall find that the consequences of those wars have been emotionally, psychologically and spiritually devastating upon the Iraqi women. In Chapter VIII, the final section, we retrace our steps through the previous seven chapters, highlighting the main themes. Here, we shall set out recommendations for the International Law, and more general recommendations for the International Law, as well.Towards this end, we suggest ways in which the international community might influence the proper treatment of women, generally in the direction of greater peace despite likely constraints on the resources available for exerting such influence. Knowing that leaders have not been able to shoulder this burden of protecting women around the world, we conclude with an appeal to all to take part in the endeavor of protecting women around the world.


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