Weekly IHL Update

Option 3Monday, November 24, 2014

In the News

Laser weapons are now at sea after the US Navy deployed a ship in the Persian Gulf mounted with a prototype laser weapon capable of emitting a warning flash, destroying an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone), or setting a smaller boat on fire. Since the purpose of the weapon is not to blind anyone, it appears to be in compliance with the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons, which does not prohibit laser weapons that may result in incidental blindness.

Five rabbis were killed in an attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem, and Israeli police intercepted a shipping container destined for East Jerusalem carrying thousands of knives, swords, fireworks, and electric-shock devices. Tension spread as protests swept the West Bank on Friday afternoon.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that over 13 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Iraq and Syria, the equivalent of the population of Istanbul or metropolitan London. But while many are fleeing conflict, others are running toward it; Islamic State propaganda campaigns are intent on recruiting foreign-born militants, releasing a new video showing French citizens burning their passports after calling for French Muslims to join in the fight with IS. While recruiting abroad and engaging in attacks in Iraq and Syria, IS also amassed a substantial fortune; the group recently expanded its endeavors beyond oil-smuggling to include artifact smuggling—trafficking in antiquities recovered from Syria and Iraq—and the resulting funds are now being used to mint  its own currency.

Around the Web

Global Thinkers. Foreign Policy’s list of this year’s global thinkers include “agitators” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the man behind Islamic State, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. “A World Disrupted: The Leading Global Thinkers of 2014,” identifies key actors that have “disrupted” the world for better and for worse. In addition to “agitators,” the list includes “advocates,” Zainab Bangura, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Bernard Kinvi and Patrick Nainangue, Catholic priests in the Central African Republic, and many others making positive contributions to protect human rights and international humanitarian law.

More Video Games! In This War of Mine, a new video game by 11bit Studio, offers gamers a new perspective on the realities of armed conflict. Players are not combatants but civilians trying to survive. Partnering with Real War is Not a Game, this video game provides gamers an opportunity to understand the physical, social, and psychological toll of war on those not involved in hostilities.

On the Blog

The Cost of Helping. As conflict continues to escalate in Syria, many have been wondering why Turkey has not gotten involved yet. Providing humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees, however, has been pretty economically taxing and, some wonder, if the monetary cost of entering the conflict may be an important consideration.

Law of Armed Conflict and Hunger Games. To celebrate the release of Mockingjay in theaters, we decided to analyze the third installment in the Hunger Games series through the lens of IHL.

*Inclusion in our “Weekly IHL Update” does not mean that the American Red Cross endorses or agrees with the views and opinions expressed.*

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