Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 7, 2009

Use of Force in the Sudan: Between Islamic Law and International Law

Sean Hilhorst

There are barriers of perception between Sudanese Muslims for whom the sharia is a source of authority and identity and others who see it as an oppressive means of dominating Sudan's minority populations. I make a distinction between process and substance in law, and show that a flawed process has contributed to a perception of international law as an instrument of powerful states, which has obscured its legislative and procedural usefulness to the Sudan as a member of the United Nations. Similarly a distortion of due process in Sudan's sharia has created a substance derived from the legacy of medieval Arabia rather than applied legal methodology. One consequence of this is that Sudan's Civil Wars have been given the attributes of offensive jihad against its diverse non-Muslim populations. I argue that offensive jihad was a legal construction designed to meet the challenges of medieval Arab society, with little basis in the fundamental sources of Islamic law or in contemporary legal methodology. I advocate a return to due process as a partial solution to the impasse between Muslim and non-Muslim identities in the Sudan, and show how international law can be improved by accommodating other legal traditions.

Published Online: 2009-4-7

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