Weekly IHL Update – September 21, 2015

Weekly IHL Update

September 21, 2015

In the news:

Tensions increased in Jerusalem this week as Palestinian protesters and Israeli police clashed at Al-Aqsa mosque, a holy site for both Muslims and Jews. In response, Israeli police have increased their security measures, which has in turn triggered further violence in the city. One controversial measure proposed is to impose fines on young Palestinian stone throwers, and their families, and to revisit the police’s rules of engagement towards these youths. The U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process warned that heightened tensions may “ignite violence well beyond the walls…of Jerusalem.”

A bomb that killed at least seven people and wounded at least twenty went off inside a Nigerian camp for internally displaced persons, an attack suspected to be the work of Boko Haram. UNICEF recently reported that over 1.4 million children have been displaced in northeast Nigeria and neighboring countries since Boko Haram emerged. Meanwhile, the Nigerian army has rescued at least a dozen women and children from Boko Haram camps. None belong to the group of 219 schoolgirls that Boko Haram infamously abducted over a year ago, but the government allegedly is negotiating with its leaders to secure their release.

U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a report (Part 1, Part 2) outlining alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity that the government and the Tamil Tigers committed during Sri Lanka’s twenty-six year civil war. The U.N. rejected Sri Lanka’s proposal to set up a truth and reconciliation commission modeled after the one in South Africa, and called on the country to set up a hybrid court to prosecute these crimes.

China is reportedly continuing its contentious land reclamation project by building a third airstrip in the South China Sea. Sovereignty over the South China Sea waters and area islands is disputed by other nations, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei. Japan has agreed to give a 200 million yen ($1.7 million) grant, along with used boats and equipment, to Vietnam to aid the country in its law enforcement operations in the South China Sea. Japan’s parliament also controversially voted to allow its armed forces to operate outside of the country for the first time since World War II.

Members of the presidential guard still loyal to Burkina Faso’s ousted president Blaise Compaore led a military coup against the interim government, and arrested its leaders, although they later released interim president Michel Kafando. The new military government reportedly killed at least six people when it used live ammunition to disperse protests that broke out in response to the coup. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, condemned the coup, the violence that followed, and the arrest and detention of the country’s interim leaders.

Yemen’s exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and Vice-President and Prime Minister, Khaled Bahah, who recently returned to Yemen, rejected peace talks with the Houthi rebels unless the rebels accept a U.N. Security Council resolution that would recognize Hadi as Yemen’s legitimate president. Meanwhile, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called for an international inquiry into war crimes committed during the conflict by the coalition and the rebels.

HALO Trust, a British charity, announced that it has cleared the last land mine in Mozambique, which is a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction. The charity has removed over 171,000 mines since it began the project in 1993.

Around the web:

Making Sense of the Syrian Conflict. Russia’s increased military presence in Syria, the ongoing refugee/migrant crisis in Europe, skepticism over the U.S.’s strategy for combating ISIS, and Assad’s continuing refusal to step down as President unless the “people demand it,” have fueled discussions on the need to find a solution for Syria. As the U.S. considers whether to end its year-long freeze on diplomatic talks with Russia over Syria, commentators for The Guardian, Bloomberg, CNN, and Huffington Post assess the options available to end the conflict. The Institute for the Study of War provides a useful map outlining the areas that the various parties to the conflict control. Meanwhile, the New York Times has created a striking visual to explain how the conflict has impacted civilians, and provided a separate account of civilians’ lives in Douma, a city near Damascus that has been a theater for violence since 2011. The Guardian has a similar story on Damascus.

Medical Assistance to Terrorists under IHL. Lawfare published a summary of a report compiled for the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict that analyzes the international humanitarian law principles that govern the provision of medical services to terrorists, and to civilians living in terrorist-controlled areas. Lawfare also spoke with two of the authors about the report in its latest podcast.

On the blog:

Out of Focus: Journalism and Modern Warfare Event. The IHL Unit’s event on how armed conflict impacts journalism, and vice versa, will still take place at the American Red Cross National Headquarters from 1-2pm on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, as the road closures planned for the Pope’s arrival to DC will not impact access to the area. RSVP here.

Humanity in War Live Stream Series. The next installment of the IHL Unit’s live-stream series “Humanity in War” will take place on October 15, 2015, and will focus on the Syrian conflict. Check back on the blog for updates.

Nepal: A 7-year Struggle for a New Constitution. This post examines Nepal’s long-lasting struggle to transition from a monarchy to a stable democratic republic. It focuses on the negotiations currently taking place to draft a constitution that would grant more rights to marginalized ethnic groups, and the often violent disagreements over how to divide Nepal into federal provinces that have forestalled the negotiations’ progress.

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