Weekly IHL Update – May 4, 2015

Weekly IHL Update

May 4, 2015

In the news:

At least 300,000 people have been displaced within the past five weeks of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, according to the U.N., and there appears to be no sign of relief for the humanitarian crisis after Arabian jets bombed the Sanaa airport runway, blocking aid flights to Yemen. Late Thursday Saudi-led airstrikes hit a residential district of Sanaa reportedly killing between eight and ten civilians. This occurred only a little more than a week after Saudi Arabia claimed it was ending its military operation “Decisive Storm” in Yemen to focus on a new campaign to protect civilians and seek a political solution. According to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen will be discussed during nuclear negotiations with Iran; officials met early this week, following the announcement of an initial nuclear agreement in early April. Earlier this week Iran seized a Marshall Islands cargo ship in Gulf waters, according to the Pentagon.

ISIS is once again in the news – last week branch of ISIS in Yemen released a video showing executions of 14 Yemeni soldiers. Although the Islamic State in Yemen has claimed responsibility for attacks before, this is the first video from within Yemen the group has released. In Iraq, Baghdad continues to suffer attacks by ISIS, and on Thursday 21 people were killed and at least 65 injured by a series of car bomb attacks within the capital, following the director of the European Union’s humanitarian aid department’s warning that the humanitarian crisis in Iraq was rapidly deteriorating as the international community is preoccupied with other crises across the globe.

Meanwhile, in Syria, the Assad regime faced intensifying pressure from Islamist rebels as the rebels and Syrian army engaged in intense fighting in Latakia province late last week near President Bashar al-Assad’s ancestral home. Latakia is Syria’s main port and one for the most important government-held areas in the nation. In Afghanistan ISIS-linked militants have been capturing territory, indicating that ISIS has expanded its influence beyond the Middle East and North Africa. In eastern Ukraine, Russian separatists continue to violate the terms of the February negotiated ceasefire, as the Ukrainian military states that militants have been using rocket launchers which were supposed to be withdrawn in accordance with the agreement.

Around the web:

The Method Behind the Islamic State’s Madness. Is the Islamic State a radical religious group seeking power for its own sake, or, instead, a rational organization creating a specific image for the purpose of building an empire? The author argues that the outrageous actions taken by the Islamic State are all part of a specific and well thought out strategy, making it an even greater threat than we may realize.

Regulating Cyber Warfare. In April, state legal advisers from over 35 states met in the Netherlands for a “Tallinn Manual 2.0 consultation meeting.” The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare currently describes the laws which regulate cyber warfare. However, participating States are seeking to expand the manual to include the international legal framework which applies to cyber operations that do not meet the threshold of an armed attack and are therefore not regulated by international humanitarian law.

On the blog:

Accountability in Syria: A Lost Cause? The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has announced that her office will not be investigating allegations of war crimes committed in the Syrian Civil War. Legal Fellow, William Xu discusses what this means for accountability for those responsible and the potential for future prosecution.

Using Video to Change Perspectives on Refugees. The Red Cross team at Hunter College High School used video in their IHL Action Campaign to teach their peers about challenges refugees face. The team thought through many possible options before deciding that a video would be the best way to reach their peers and change their perspectives on what it means to be a refugee.

Simulating the Refugee Experience. At Valpraiso University, the Red Cross team set up a Refugee Simulation Camp to show students what it is like to be a refugee in an armed conflict. Achieving what seemed an impossible task, the team constructed a miniature refugee camp reflecting the real living conditions of refugees!

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