In the news:
Early last week, Arab leaders announced the creation of a joint military force to counter the terrorist threats in the Middle East, with which the U.S. has announced it will cooperate. This announcement came as the Saudi-led coalition continued its airstrikes in Yemen, which failed to stop the Houthi rebels from advancing into a central district of the key port city of Aden. Saudi troops and Houthi rebels have also been engaging in heavy clashes on the Saudi-Yemeni border. Meanwhile, Iran has been sending aid in the form of food and medical equipment. Devastating reports of civilian deaths continue to emerge as an airstrike in a Yemen Camp for displaced people killed 40 people, and the explosion at a dairy factory killed 25, both incidents leading to conflicting reports of responsibility and raising issues of possible violations of International Humanitarian Law. Al-Qaeda militants have also been active in Yemen, seizing a prison and liberating hundreds of inmates.
Following claims by the Nigerian army that the Boko Haram headquarters in Gwoza had been destroyed, the elections finally proceeded, amidst Boko Haram attacks on poll stations that killed dozens of civilians. Former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari ousted former President Jonathan Goodluck in a historical election, and pledged to tackle the country’s terrorist and corruption problems. Read an interesting profile of the new President elect here.
In Syria, Islamist rebels have captured the town of Idlib that is now solidly in the hands of a coalition that includes the Al Qaeda branch al Nusra Front. ISIS is also reportedly seizing new territory in the areas of Hama and Damascus, killing dozens of civilians, as Turkey closes its borders to Syria. Better news in Iraq where Iraqi forces completed their first successful operation against ISIS in reclaiming the city of Tikrit, with the late support of U.S. airstrikes that Iran claims have killed two military advisers. The U.S. has denied these claims.
There are still reports of deaths of Ukrainian servicemen despite the decline in violence, while the U.S. has launched Operation Dragoon Ride, driving armored vehicles accompanied by troops across six European countries, with the goal of reassuring its allies about U.S. military support. Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack on a Kenyan university that led to the killing almost 150 people, the highest death toll in the country since the 1998 attack on a U.S. embassy. Finally, last Wednesday, the Palestinian authority became a full member of the International Criminal Court.
Around the web:
Airstrikes in Yemen: what legal basis? There appears to have been a general lack of justifications under international law of the Saudi-led airstrikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Some further criticize those justifications that have been given; Yemeni consent and self-defense under article 51 of the U.N. Charter. For a structured analysis of international law issues relevant to the situation, read here.
The forgotten link between WW1 and women’s rights. The Women’s Congress of 1915 at The Hague joined feminists and pacifists from around the world as WW1 raged across Europe. Chief among their concerns was the support to women’s suffrage, seen as inseparable from the objective of peace. Despite having been marginalized in the 1919 Paris negotiations, the Congress “stands as a testament to the efforts of generations of feminists who worked to make women’s rights an international concern”.
On the blog:
Security detention: the legal uncertainties of an underdeveloped legal framework. Read about the controversial wartime practice of security detention, which enables a State to detain individuals without trial on the basis of the security risks they might pose. This concept, although recognized by IHL, is nonetheless in dire need of an improved framework.
Shed the Gender. Gender is an oft-overlooked issue when it comes to armed conflict. This IHL Action Campaign Team has engaged in the crucial task of educating the public on gender stereotypes during armed conflict, notably through an imaginative Family-Feud style tournament.
The Bold Eagles take off on the game of life. Another IHL Campaign Team is focusing on the topic of gender in armed conflict, and has chosen to spread the knowledge through an interactive flash game showcasing a day in the life of civilians affected by armed conflict.