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Violence against Women: Call for Submissions

July 1, 2016

This is not specifically on armed groups, but probably of interest to some of the readers of this blog focusing on armed conflict and sexual violence.

The Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović took up function as Special Rapporteur on 1 August 2015 and intends to, inter alia, focus on the legal and policy frameworks of her mandate and the international human rights mechanisms to discuss the gap in incorporating and implementing the international and regional standards related to violence against women.

The Special Rapporteur considers that the discussion on the adequacy of the international legal framework on violence against women initiated by the former mandate holder should continue and she wishes to secure views from different stakeholders, including States, National Human Rights Institutions, Non-governmental organizations, as well as members of academia.

Taking into consideration the important role that different stakeholders play in reinforcing universal human rights standards, she would be very interested to receive input and views on the following questions:

  1. Do you consider that there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty on violence against women with its separate monitoring body?
  2. Do you consider that there is an incorporation gap of the international or regional human rights norms and standards?
  3. Do you believe that there is a lack of implementation of the international and regional legislation into the domestic law?
  4. Do you think that there is a fragmentation of policies and legislation to address gender-based violence?
  5. Could you also provide your views on measures needed to address this normative and implementation gap and to accelerate prevention and elimination of violence against women?

All submissions should be sent by 1 October 2016 to

Open for comment: ICC OTP’s Draft Policy on Children

June 29, 2016

Last week, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”), Mrs Fatou Bensouda, published a draft Policy on Children for comment. The Policy once finalised and adopted, will help guide the Office of the Prosecutor (“Office”) in its efforts to address international crimes under the Rome Statute against or affecting children, as well as the Office’s interaction with children during the course of its work.

In highlighting the importance of the Policy, Prosecutor Bensouda stated: “when I assumed the role of Prosecutor in June 2012, one of the principal goals I set for the Office was to ensure that we pay particular attention not only to ‘children with arms’, but also ‘children affected by arms.’ This Policy demonstrates our firm commitment to closing the impunity gap for crimes against or affecting children, and adopting a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of our work bearing in mind their rights and best interests. It is also our hope that the Policy, once adopted, will serve as a useful guide to national authorities in their efforts to address crimes against children.”

The draft Policy is based on the Rome Statute and other regulatory instruments of the Court, as well as applicable treaties, principles and rules of international law. It also draws on the experience of the Office; its existing good practices and lessons learned, as well as relevant international jurisprudence.

The ICC OTP has said that it welcomes and encourages comments on the draft Policy. Comments can be sent to the following email address: until Friday, 5 August 2016.

Following consideration of the comments received and any appropriate amendments to the draft, the final version of the policy will be officially launched in November 2016.


Breaking news: Bemba jailed for 18 years

June 21, 2016

Breaking news

ICC Trial Chamber III has sentenced Bemba to 18 years after landmark ICC conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On 21 March 2016, Trial Chamber III declared Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo guilty beyond any reasonable doubt of two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging). The crimes were committed in Central African Republic from on or about 26 October 2002 to 15 March 2003 by a contingent of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo troops. Mr Bemba was a person effectively acting as a military commander with effective authority and control over the forces that committed the crimes.


Launch of International and Comparative Disaster Law essay competition

June 13, 2016

Disaster Law competitionThe second annual “International and comparative disaster law essay contest” has been launched.

The contest is open only to students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at any university (anywhere in the world) at the time of submission. Essays may examine any issue related to law and disasters due to natural hazards, but must do so either from a comparative or an international law perspective, or both. Comparative essays should examine laws or legal issues from no less than three countries.

The winner of the contest will receive:

– A monetary prize in the amount of CHF 500.

– A free annual membership in the American Society of International Law and waiver of fees for attendance of the ASIL annual meeting in April 2017.

The winner will also have his or her paper published as a “Working Paper” of the IFRC’s Disaster Law Programme. They will retain copyright of their papers and may subsequently publish them elsewhere, according to the terms of the Working Papers series.

A message announcing the name of the winner and runners up of the contest will be sent to all members of the ASIL DLIG, as well as to the co-sponsors and made public on the ASIL website.

The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2016.


San Remo IHL Roundtable 2016: Weapons and International Rule of War

June 10, 2016

San RemoThis year’s San Remo Roundtable on IHL is on the theme of ‘weapons and international rule of law’. The programme has just been published and can be found in English here.

It includes sessions on the following issues:-

– legal reviews of new weapons; processes and procedures

– weapons reviews: current and future challenges?

– a case study: law enforcement by military personnel

– waging contemporary conflicts: use of weapons by non State actors

– the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in armed conflict

– challenges from specific weapons – part I (biological weapons, nuclear weapons and outer space militarization)

– challenges from specific weapons – part II (lethal autonomous weapons, cyber offensive use, unmanned maritime systems)

– the Red Cross and Red Crescent Conference: What next?

*compliance measures

*detention: applicable law and best practice

*sexual violence: prevention activities and response to victims’ needs

UN Secretary General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict

June 9, 2016

Earlier this week, the  UN Secretary General’s annual report on children and armed conflict was published. The report covered grave violations against children in the period January to December 2015.

The report reports serious challenges in many areas of the world, especially those experiencing protracted armed conflicts such as Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and South Sudan. Here is the UN’s summary:-

Emerging and escalating crises had a horrific impact on boys and girls. The situation in Yemen was particularly worrisome with a five-fold increase in the number of children recruited and six times more children killed and maimed compared to 2014. Violations committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continued to have a devastating impact on children, including persistent child recruitment and use and boys featured as child soldiers in social media and in some cases as executioners. In Nigeria, Boko Haram increased suicide attacks, including by using 21 girls as suicide bombers in crowded public spaces. The armed group spread its activities from northeastern Nigeria to neighboring countries, causing a significant number of casualties among civilians and large-scale displacements.

“In several situations of conflict, aerial operations contributed to creating complex environments in which large numbers of children were killed and maimed. State-allied armed groups and militia have also increasingly been used to fight in support of Government forces, in some cases recruiting and using children,” said Leila Zerrougui, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

In Syria, thousands of children have been killed during over five years of war. Afghanistan recorded the highest number of child deaths and injuries since the UN started systematically documenting civilian casualties in 2009. In Somalia, there was a 50% increase in the number of recorded violations against children. In South Sudan, children were victims of gruesome violations, particularly during brutal military offensives against opposition forces.

Read more…

Call for papers: 11th Annual Minerva-ICRC International Conference on Contemporary Challenges in IHL

June 8, 2016

The Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Israel and the Occupied Territories are organizing an international conference that seeks to explore cutting-edge issues in the field of international humanitarian law (IHL). The conference, the eleventh in the series of Minerva-ICRC Annual International Conferences on IHL, is scheduled for 28-29 November 2016 in Jerusalem. Recipients of this call for papers are invited to submit proposals to present an original paper at the conference. Authors of selected proposals will be offered full or partial flight and accommodation expenses.

Submission deadline: 1 July 2016

Background: Contemporary conflict patterns have created a myriad of complex issues in the field of international humanitarian law, which the 11th Annual Minerva-ICRC Conference on International Humanitarian Law seeks to address. In armed conflicts across the globe, civilians continue to bear the brunt of the hostilities, especially when fighting takes place in densely populated areas or when civilians are deliberately targeted. Thousands of people are being detained, often outside of any legal framework and are often subjected to ill treatment or inadequate conditions of detention. The number of persons displaced as a result of armed conflict is also dramatic and the number of internally displaced persons, refugees and asylum seekers uprooted by ongoing armed conflicts worldwide has soared in the past two years. Additionally, the increase in the number and complexity of parties to a conflict is a noticeable feature of contemporary armed conflicts. On the State side, the number of foreign interventions in many ongoing armed conflicts contributes substantially to the multiplication of actors involved. In parallel, on the non-State side, a myriad of fluid, multiplying and fragmenting armed groups frequently take part in the fighting. The spillover of hostilities into neighboring countries, their geographical expanse and their regionalization have also become a distinctive feature of many contemporary armed conflicts – partly as a consequence of foreign involvements. Violations of IHL, committed both by States and non-State actors continue to be a primary feature of contemporary conflicts. In many situations, this is linked to a denial of the applicability or relevance of IHL. On the part of non-State armed groups, there is sometimes a rejection of IHL, which some parties do not feel bound by. In addition to this, recent armed conflicts have seen a rise in the deliberate commission of violations of IHL by some non-State armed groups and their use of media to publicize those violations. On the part of States, it is often, though not always, the result of counterterrorism measures and discourses, which seem to be hardening with time. It remains the case that some States deny the existence of armed conflicts, rendering dialogue difficult on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and the protection of those affected by it. Against this backdrop, the conference academic committee invites recipients to submit proposals to present a paper at the conference dealing with one of the following contemporary challenges of IHL:

Read more…


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