Weekly Update – March 9, 2015

Weekly IHL Update

In the news:

Following the pro-Russian rebels’ lead last week, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced its withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front lines. However, the claims have not been verified due to compliance monitoring difficulties with the ceasefire agreement. While it seems like the ceasefire agreement is beginning to hold, sporadic violence continues, and the pro-Russian rebel shelling of government positions early last week led to the death of several Ukrainian servicemen. Furthermore, the Ukrainian military has expressed fears that the rebels are using the ceasefire to regroup. Both the U.K. and the U.S. are sending military advisers to help Ukraine, and the West is once again threatening new sanctions against Russia – although it is unclear what exactly would trigger these.

Reports indicate that Iraqi troops have now entered Tikrit and taken control of several sites within the city. Analysts warn that they might be facing a protracted battle though, as ISIS militants have started to conduct suicide attacks and detonating roadside bombs. Following this week’s earlier release of a group of nineteen Christian hostages, ISIS released four more, but 190 remain captive.

An unknown group calling itself the Popular Resistance Movement has claimed responsibility for a wave of explosions in Cairo, Egypt. Although the group does not appear to have ties with Egypt’s main extremist group, the U.S. has decided to help Egypt, a country that is strategically important for stability in the Middle East.

U.S. authorities identified 300 Bosnian immigrants believed to have concealed their involvement in wartime atrocities in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and are trying to deport 150 of them. Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition is posting thousands of photographs of detainees who died in prisons uner Assad’s regime in order to assist families in identifying victims and to prepare for potential legal action if war crime cases should ever be filed.

Around the web:

Killer Robots. South Korea’s SGR-A1 is a lethal autonomous weapon systems capable of autonomously identifying and destroying targets. Used in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea as a defense system, it has been argued that these autonomous robots would actually decrease the likelihood of war by raising the costs of a North Korean aggression.

Women & war. Following International Women’s Day, take a look at this interesting article about one of the Western presence in Afghanistan’s most provocative legacies – women’s shelters. The West has made its own improvements, as the U.S. announced the opening of positions in US Army’s special operations units to women, although the closed combat occupations will remain reserved to men.

On the blog:

IHL Action Campaign blogging season. The IHL Team’s Youth Education Program has announced that over 400 high school and college students will be designing campaigns to teach their peers about IHL, as well as gender and refugee issues and sharing their experiences on the blog.

Learning that gender can be a weapon of war. The team’s decision to focus on the topic of gender and war has led to the development of an IHL Action Campaign based on simulations, in which participants will be educating on the gender issues that arise in times of armed conflict.

Situation update: ISIS. Read an update about the constantly evolving conflict with ISIS. Iraq decided to launch an attack to recapture the town of Tikrit in Iraq without U.S. support, while ISIS militants destroyed importance pieces of art in a Museum in Mosul and Boko Haram shows certain signs of alignment with ISIS.

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