Post Valentine’s IHL Weekly Update


In the News

A new report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research has found that the war in Syria has claimed 470,000 lives since it started in March 2011. Of the 470,000, 400,000 were directly a result of the violence, while the remaining 70,000 were a result of inadequate health services, medicine, clean water, and sanitation.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced in Munich that all parties agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” within one week of the announcement. Russia proposes a March 1st ceasefire, however the United States is demanding the fighting stop immediately. Peace talks are due to resume February 25th.

Nevertheless, a shadow was cast on the Munich talks when on Monday airstrikes hit five medical centers and two schools in Syrian towns. The attacks, which Amnesty International suggests may amount to war crimes, killed at least 50 civilians.

In other news, NATO and the European Union have signed an agreement for cooperation in cyberdefense that establishes a framework for the exchange of information and the sharing of best practices.

The first attack ISIS has claimed responsibility for in Syria’s capital, Damascus, occurred earlier this month involving a car bomb. Meanwhile, as ISIS fights for its stronghold over Mosul, it is attempting to compensate for its loss of senior and seasoned fighters by turning to child soldiers and foreign fighters drugged by a meth-like substance known as Captagon. Moreover, samples confirm that ISIS militants used mustard gas in an attack in Iraq last year.

In Libya, the Presidential Council has announced the formation of a revised national unity government and has sent a list of ministers to parliament for approval.

Early Friday morning, American airstrikes hit a training camp in Sabratha Libya in the hopes of killing a Tunisian militant linked to attacks on Western tourists.

Turning to Africa, Boko Haram continues to use women and girls as suicide bombers. The Guardian tells the story of a teenage girl who aborted the mission and fled before she was supposed to ignite the explosives. However, two other women blew themselves up at Dikwa refugee camp near Maiduguri, Nigeria killing at least fifty-six people. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has condemned the attack. Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme has finally been able to provide food and nutrition support to the thousands of people displaced by Boko Haram violence.

North Korea has declared South Korea’s pulling out of the industrial zone in retaliation for North Korea’s recent rocket launch a “declaration of war”. Ties have also been “frayed” between South Korea and China since the rocket launch as China disapproves of South Korea’s embracing an American antimissile defense system.

Last week China deployed surface-to-air missiles on an island in the South China Sea.

The 9/11 pre-trial hearings were supposed to resume on Tuesday at Guantanamo Bay’s war court, Camp Justice, however “a trial date is still not in sight.”

The United States Navy is considering installing a powerful railgun on a destroyer, after testing, the Navy believes the railguns will be operational soon and the railguns are planned to go into service in two years.

Around the Web

Obama’s op-ed on cybersecurity funding. President Obama wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal in which he defends his proposal to increase cybersecurity funding by 35%. He discusses how America is “defined by the spirit of innovation, and our dominance in the digital world gives us a competitive advantage in the global economy.”

Watch the infamous rocket launch. North Korea has posted a video of its rocket launch from February 7th.

Disputes with China. Council on Foreign Relations has created an interesting information guide on China’s various disputes at sea, as well as a video about what kinds of issues the next President of the United States will have to face.

Underwater firearms? War is Boring published a piece about underwater firearms. The Russians began developing underwater guns about fifty years ago to prepare for the possibility of underwater engagements. The issue is that water is eight hundred times denser than air thereby making the firing of guns not necessarily effective in water even if the gun will fire underwater.

A call for the expansion of the definition of rape in the International Criminal Court. IntLawGrrls writes a thought-provoking piece on the gender exclusive definition of rape. Even though the victim could be male or female, the current definition in International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) jurisprudence does not account for instances where the accused has forced other men to perform the sexual acts of violence. Only one ICTY case accounted for such a rape (Prosecutor v Cesic). The piece advocates for the inclusion of “enforced rape” into the Rome Statute definition.

The nexus between cultural heritage and human rights laws. EJIL: Talk! explores the relationship between international cultural heritage law and international human rights law (IHRL). The article talks about using IHRL terminology to co-opt smaller, more specialized areas of law, such as that protecting cultural property. However, there is a concern that IHRL could absorb and obscure cultural property law rather than being a truly effective cooperative mechanism.

On the Blog

21st Century Warfare: A Conversation with David Kilcullen. Join us on February 23rd at 2 pm EDT for a live-stream interview on the shift of modern conflict and the rise of urban warfare with David Kilcullen, Founder and Chairman of Caerus Global Solutions and author of Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla. The live-stream will be moderated by Andrea Harrison, Deputy Legal Advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Adapting to the Urban Theater. Join us February 29 at 9:30 am EDT as the IHL Team Director, Christie Edwards, moderates this discussion on the use of cities as combat zones. The speakers are Nathalie Weizmann, Senior Legal Officer for the Policy Development and Studies Branch of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Captain Ben Wahlhaus, Senior Legal Advisor for the International Law Department of the Israel Defense Forces. You can attend the event or watch online. RSVP using this link and tweet using #UrbanWarfare. Note, this will be live-streamed ONLY and will not be available online after the event.

Using social media to create change. Haritha Aribindi writes about her work relating to torture with the IHL Action Campaign Team at Cornell University. Haritha discussing using social media to disseminate information, motivate the community, and really push toward social change.

Elmira College brings IHL to campus. Mhairi Holmes of the IHL Action Campaign Team talks about the difficulty of discussing IHL on college campuses as students are often “cut off from what is happening in the rest of the world, and oblivious to the implications of these events.” Mhairi discusses Elmira College’s use of pop culture to tie in IHL and captivate the collegiate audience.

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