September 28, 2015
In the news:
The EU has agreed to donate 1 billion euros to U.N. agencies to help improve conditions for refugees/migrants in Syria’s neighboring countries. Deplorable camp conditions in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries, due in part to underfunding, have significantly contributed to the recent flow of refugees/migrants to Europe. Turkey also proposed that a buffer and no-fly zone be created in northern Syria to safely house fleeing refugees/migrants. The EU has also finally approved a controversial plan to relocate around 120,000 refugees/migrants in the region between its member states. The New York Times provides a series of informative graphs that detail the manner of relocation. Foreign Policy also published an interesting article about the Syrian Diaspora’s efforts to smuggle aid into Yarmouk during the Syrian government blockade.
While former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, called for a stronger military strategy in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has proposed a renewed diplomatic effort to bring about a political solution to the conflict. He confirmed that the U.S. is willing to negotiate with Assad, and is open to Assad’s gradual, rather than immediate, removal from power.
On the same week as the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a global ceasefire that would “create space for lasting peace,” peace, however temporary, is being considered in several countries in the midst of armed conflict. In Syria, as the government bombs ISIS-held Palmyra, rebels and Assad’s armed forces have agreed to a six-month U.N.-backed ceasefire in Zabadani, a rebel-held city near the Lebanese border, and two Shiite villages. In Burkina Faso, coup leaders agreed to restore President Michel Kafando to power. In Colombia, the government and the Farc rebels have agreed to sign a final peace deal within the next six months, and proposed a transitional justice mechanism, which will include hybrid tribunals, to address war crimes that have allegedly taken place throughout the conflict on both sides. In Afghanistan, new Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, suggested that he would be open to peace negotiations with the government if foreign troops agree to leave, and a security deal with the U.S. is revoked. In Libya, the U.N. has drafted a power-sharing framework that would hopefully bring an end to the conflict between the government and armed groups.
In the Philippines, however, dozens of amendments to a bill that would create the autonomous region promised to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (“MILF”) in last year’s peace deal have increased tensions between the government and the rebel group. In eastern Ukraine, the ceasefire still holds, although Russia reportedly continues to supply the separatist rebels with weapons. Meanwhile, the rebels have ordered U.N. agencies and NGOs to leave Luhansk.
Around the web:
Water Wars. Lawfare’s new weekly feature “Water Wars,” published every Friday, will provide news recaps, analysis, and opinions on the increasing tensions in the South and East China Seas. This week, it focused on Sino-U.S. relations regarding this issue, and recapped the portions of President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s joint press conference in Washington, D.C. that focused on maritime interests in the Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, The Atlantic analyzes whether Thucydides’s Trap could trigger a war between the two countries.
U.N. Immunity. Opinio Juris has published a summary of the arguments surrounding U.N. immunity against lawsuits, an issue that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is currently addressing in relation to the cholera epidemic in Haiti that is attributed to U.N. peacekeeper negligence. The U.S. recently filed its amicus brief in the case.
Testimonies of ISIS defectors. The International Center for the Study of Radicalization published a report analyzing the testimonies of 58 defectors from ISIS. The New York Times and Al Jazeera write that the report undermines the unity within ISIS that the group wishes to portray to the world.
War Crimes in the Sinai. Human Rights Watch recently published a report that accused the Egyptian government of committing war crimes by destroying the homes of at least 3,200 families in the Sinai Peninsula. The government has done so to create a buffer zone that would protect against attacks from rebel groups in northern Sinai. The Guardian provides an overview of Egypt’s operations against these groups.
On the blog:
Breaking Through: Dismantling Roadblocks to Humanitarian Response for Syria. The IHL Unit’s next live-stream event will take place on October 19, 2015 from 9:00-11:00am at the American Red Cross Headquarters, and will focus on the barriers that hinder effective humanitarian response for the Syrian conflict. Speakers include Jana Mason, Senior Advisor for Government Relations & External Affairs at the UNHCR, and Hind Kabawat, Director of Interfaith Peacebuilding, Center for World Religions & Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. RSVP here. If you missed the September 22, 2015 event on journalism and modern warfare, the live-stream is available here.
Cultural Property: A Universal Concern. The latest situation update highlights the most recent threats to the protection of cultural property during armed conflict, focusing on ISIS’s destruction of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, and the clashes that took place in Al Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem. This piece was written in light of Pope Francis’s visit to D.C. The Vatican is one of the few areas protected from destruction under the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict.
The Meaning of “Alleviating Human Suffering.” An active member, and later External President, of Bayside High School’s American Red Cross club recounts his experiences as a volunteer. His club not only aided the disaster response to Hurricane Sandy, but also participated in the Red Cross IHL Action Campaign, which spreads awareness of IHL to U.S. youth.