Normative Principles of the Responsibility to Protect (Rtop) as a Mitigating Measure on Electoral Violence in Zimbabwe
The politics of post-colonial African states has been characterised by electoral irregularities and associated violence which continue to seriously threaten the fundamental fabrics of human security. Several factors such as poor electoral management system, military intransigence, and political despotism, among others, have been implicated in electoral crisis in Africa. Against this background, this paper examines how the prevention framework of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) norm can be invokedto mitigating election related human rights abuses. In order to accomplish the objectives of the paper, a test case of Zimbabwe’s experiences of electoral violence during the 2008 and 2018 harmonised elections is utilised. Fundamentally, the issue of elections and democratisation is of paramount importance to the achievement of sustainable development. In most countries where elections are credible, there is stability, hence focus of development needs of the country. The study departs from the premise that the affirmation of the principles of the RtoP by the African Union Constitutive Act, article 4(h), has not been meaningfully utilised to end human rights violations especially of the electoral and political making. An incisive observation by the author is that human rights violations resulting from electoral crisis is a significant field of study deserving an RtoP focused perspective. As such, the analytical tool of the paper is the RtoP Tool Box developed by Gareth Evans in 2008 and later expanded by the International Coalition of the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) in 2013. As a method of proceeding, the paper is largely qualitative and analytical. Data gathered through documentary analysis methodology is relied upon to develop a conceptual framework of electoral crisis and the normative principles of RtoP as an alternative approach to mitigating on electoral violence in Africa. The link between electoral crisis, human rights and development are evaluated based on national, regional and international legislation as well as the normative principles of RtoP. Evidence emerging from the study shows that electoral crisis in undermines the realization of sustainable development and democracy and that there is need to internalize the RtoP principles. Based on this, a broad conclusion is drawn to the effect that ineffective addressing of this problem and several others will have long-term consequences for Zimbabwe’s development trajectory.
Keywords - Human Rights, Elections, Responsibility to Protect, Zimbabwe, Violence and Human Security