March 28, 2016
***Congratulations to all of the teams who competed in the 2016 Clara Barton IHL Competition!***
With the competition behind us, look out for future Weekly Updates on your Friday morning commutes!
In the News
Belgians woke up to explosions on Tuesday: two at the airport and one at a subway station with at least thirty four killed and over two hundred wounded. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack and ISIS supporters have been circulating a tweet stating, “What will be coming is worse.”
Thus, the terror threat level in Belgium is now at the highest – level 4 – which allows for soldiers to walk the streets of Brussels. In addition, increased precautions have been put in place in New York, Washington DC, and other prominent cities.
This attack comes after the capture of Salah Abdeslam, thought to be the mastermind of the Paris attacks in November.
This attack also comes just a few days after ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Istanbul. The Turkish born ISIS member ignited the bomb at Istanbul’s central Istiklal Avenue killing three Israelis and one Iranian.
Following an ISIS attack on a US base that killed a US marine, the US announced last week that it will send more troops into Iraq.
Pakistan rumbled yesterday with the aftermath of an explosion in a public park leaving around sixty nine dead and three hundred wounded, including children. Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-e-Ahrar, which has claimed responsibility for the bombing, alleges that the goal was to target Christians and send a message of their strength to the government.
Peace talks in Geneva over the Syrian conflict has hit a deadlock as the Assad regime refuses to discuss its political future of President Bashar al-Assasd. The talks have been adjourned after ten days with “no drama, no walkouts” but not a lot of encouragement as the UN mediator saw no sign of progress for a more permanent settlement of the conflict.
Despite announcing a partial withdrawal from Syira, Russian warplanes continue airstrikes. President Putin made it clear that even though Russia withdrew its forces, their warplanes could redeploy to Syria quickly and Russia has threatened to conduct unilateral attacks against any violators of the ceasefire.
After an airstrike in Yemen left over one hundred civilians dead – including twenty four children – the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that figures show “the Coalition [is] responsible for twice as many civilian casualties as all other forces put together”. A ceasefire due to last a week or two has been agreed to as a new round of negotiations are set to begin in April. In fact, the Yemeni Shiite rebels have agreed to hand over weapons and withdraw from territory as per a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Last week a hotel being used by European Union military officials was attacked by unidentified assailants in Bamako, Mali.
In Asia, despite the recent tensions and sanctions after North Korea’s recent rocket launch, North Korea launched five short-range projectiles into the sea.
With the ongoing dispute between China and the Philippines over territory in the South China Sea, American troops are set to be stationed in the Philippines for the first time in about twenty five years.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced a commitment to raise defense spending as Australia plans to build up its arms due to fears over China.
In a historical case, the ICC Trial Chamber III has unanimously convicted Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former President of Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC) and former Vice President of DRC, of crimes against humanity and war crimes. This case is particularly notable as it put the sexual violence committed by MLC forces under his authority and control into the forefront. The UN has welcomed this judgment as the first ICC conviction for rape as a war crime and crime against humanity.
Turning to the refugee and immigration crisis in Europe, the European Union and Turkey have entered into an agreement that will allow those turned away from Greece to return to Turkey where they will have the opportunity to seek international protection.
Finally, the ICRC has released new commentary on the First Geneva Convention. This is the first of the new commentaries to the Geneva Conventions to be released.
Around the Web
Documenting a war with an iPhone. The Washington Post shares photographs by Michael Christopher Brown, who documented the civil war in Libya with his iPhone, even after being injured and losing two of his colleagues.
What Does a “Genocide” Designation for ISIS’s Actions Mean? After Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that ISIS is committing genocide in Iraq and Syria, CNN’s Laurie Blank and Geoffrey Corn wrote an op-ed discussing the caution and deliberation that must go into such a statement when it is being made by the President (or the Secretary of State), as compared to the “freedom of action” that Congress enjoys when proclaiming acts of genocide. Laurie Blank and Geoffrey Corn claim that Congress’s earlier nonbinding resolution labeling ISIS atrocities as genocide had persuasive moral implications but did not necessarily create obligations. They discuss the ramifications of the Secretary of State making such a determination, including universal jurisdiction, credibility of US operations, or bringing claims in front of the International Criminal Court.
A War Crimes Tribunal for Syria? Patrick Wall for Opinio Juris discusses a resolution that recently, and overwhelming, passed in the US House of Representatives which promotes the establishment of a tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the course of the conflict in Syria. Wall writes about the passion and advocacy of Republican Representative Chris Smith who sponsored the resolution.
How ISIS knew to strike the US marine base. The Daily Beast delves into the ISIS strike of the U.S. military base in Iraq that killed Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin. Nancy Youssef unpacks how ISIS knew where these marines were despite their location allegedly being secret because their deployment was meant to be a strategic preparation for “the biggest battle of the war”. Her discussion also highlights the reality of American military presence versus the “official” figure of boots on the ground.
Revitalizing Military Necessity. A new episode of EJIL:Live! features Professor Yishai Beer discussing his article “Humanity Considerations Cannot Reduce War’s Hazards Alone: Revitalizing the Concept of Military Necessity” where he addresses how “military professionalism” can be a useful constraint on the use of force.
On the Blog
International Humanitarian Law: A Primer for Professionals. Register for our upcoming one-day workshop from 9 am to 5 pm on May 5th in New York City. Audience members will learn to recognize and understand situations where international humanitarian law is applicable. Lunch and CLE credits are available! Contact us at RFLGNY@redcross.org to apply and obtain more information.
International Humanitarian Law Workshop at Washington University School of Law. The workshop will take place on April 8th from 9 am to 5 pm at the Washington University Law Anheuser-Busch Hall. The workshop will feature lectures and hands-on exercises for a thorough examination of IHL and its application to combatants and civilians. Breakfast and lunch will be provided as well as 5.8 hours of CLE credits. Register by April 1st here!
Staying True to International Humanitarian Law: Seattle Lawyer Joe McMillan Weighs In. Read the Q and A from an event hosted earlier this month involving Joseph McMillan, who was a member of the pro bono defense team for Osama Bin Laden’s driver, Salim Hamdan, as he discusses the complexities of IHL in our post-9/11 world.
21st Century Warfare: A Conversation with David Kilcullen. On February 23rd Andrea Harrison, Deputy Legal Advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross, moderated a live-stream interview with David Kilcullen, Founder and Chairman of Caerus Global Solutions and author of Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla. You can watch the live stream here.
Learning by Teaching. The IHL Team discusses how being part of the IHL Action Campaign as a teacher, rather than a student, allows them to learn new things about themselves such as the ability to piece together presentations and the process of helping students prepare for real world issues and situations.
Bringing IHL to Life. The IHL Team at Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami, Florida has conducted presentations on torture and health care in danger using discussions and videos to give audiences a better understanding of the various concepts. The team is also hosting a role-playing simulation event, Raid Cross, and a movie night to discuss war movies and their relationship to IHL. This is part of the Coral Reef Senior High School team’s attempt to use social media to better spread awareness of IHL issues.
North High is Better Together. Patricia Macalalag and Sera Shimooka, team leaders for North High’s IHL Action Campaign, write about their experience as team leaders and their joy seeing their team grow and work together despite a few bumps and imperfections.
Ready for IHL: Lessons from a Hardworking Team. Christine Phan and Lily Kawaoto of the IHL Action Campaign Team’s Long Beach Chapter talk about their experience working as a team, getting out of their comfort zones, and practicing productive communication in preparation for their upcoming IHL Action Campaign presentation.
Building Interest, Support, and Compassion. Christine Zhou discusses how through presentations, workshops, and simulations, the IHL Action Campaign builds bonds between us all and has helped spread awareness of injustices throughout the world.