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News Roundup – 22th May – 5th June

June 7, 2018

What does it take to be a non-state armed group?

‘Precision’ airstrikes kill civilians. In Raqqa we saw the devastation for ourselves

Russian troops killed during rebel raid in Syria’s Deir Az Zor

Activists: ISIL fighters withdraw from Syria’s Yarmouk

Chlorine gas was dropped on Syrian rebel town Saraqib, say OPCW

Syrian rebels pull out of their last besieged area

Post-ISIL fears loom over Mosul’s Old City

Foreign fighters in Turkistan Islamic Party call on Westerners to migrate to Syria

Taliban operations span the entire country, Afghan Interior Ministry confirms

Taliban says negotiations are ‘pointless’ as long as coalition forces occupy Afghanistan

Islamic State suicide bomber strikes meeting of Afghan clerics who had just condemned terrorism

Insurgent killed along LoC in North Kashmir: Army

Israel strikes Hamas sites in Gaza after militants fire rockets

Will the Hamas-Israel ceasefire hold?

Battle for rebel-held Yemen port may trigger humanitarian disaster

Yemen: Fierce new offensive displaces tens of thousands of civilians from Hodeidah

Libya: Battle for City Endangers Civilians

Tuareg alliance claims more operations against ISGS in northern Mali

US kills 27 Shabaab terrorists in rare northern Somalia strike

“By Day We Fear the Army, By Night the Jihadists” – Abused by Armed Islamists and Security Forces in Burkina Faso

Central African Republic Part 1: Inside mission impossible

Central African Republic, part 2: ‘We Have Become the Targets’

Central African Republic approves war crimes court

More than 200 child soldiers released in Pibor, reintegrating them remains huge challenge

Rohingya insurgents reject Amnesty report on Hindu villagers killed in Myanmar

Myanmar: New evidence reveals Rohingya armed group massacred scores in Rakhine State

Ta’ang Armed Group Opens First Liaison Office in Wa Territory

‘Slow genocide’: Myanmar’s invisible war on the Kachin Christian minority

Thanks to Sam Jackson for preparing this news roundup!



News Roundup – 7-13th May 2018

May 18, 2018

This is posted a bit late, but relates to the period above.

Prevent terrorists profiting from cross-border crime, urges UN Security Council

Rebels begin evacuation of Syria’s last besieged enclave

UK apologizes to Libyan ex-rebel and wife over role in 2004 rendition

Taliban overruns another district in the Afghan north

Why Are The Taliban Seeking Territory In Northern Afghanistan

Pakistani militants have created their own political party. Can it actually win votes?

Libya: Armed Group Detains Media Figures

Afghanistan: Insurgent Attacks on Civilians Escalate

Analysis: Islamic State ramps up attack claims in Somalia

Al Qaeda branch threatens attacks on Western companies in Africa

Sudan: Darfur Armed Groups Declare Immediate Humanitarian Ceasefire

Death of Mozambique rebel leader shakes peace process           

ISIS claims its ‘soldiers’ are responsible for prison riot in Indonesia

Insurgents in Myanmar kill 19 in attack near China border: official

Myanmar’s northern offensive against rebels sparks youthful revolt

Colombia, ELN rebels say peace talks will be moved to Cuba

News Roundup – 16-30th April 2018

April 30, 2018

2018 Ramadan Radicals: Revenge and Redemption – Potential Actors, Motivators and Dates

Yazidis who suffered under ISIS face forced conversion to Islam amid fresh persecution in Afrin

Turkey, rebel allies have lost hundreds in Afrin fighting, Erdogan says

Syrian rebels withdraw from enclave northeast of Damascus

As Islamic State Fades in Syria, Another Militant Group Takes Root

Why the Syrian regime has been targeting civilian infrastructure

Syria: SDF reclaim territory hours after government capture

Estimated 60 percent of Yarmouk destroyed amid violence: Group

Syrian government plans to retake north Homs from rebels next: minister

Snipers ordered to shoot children, Israeli general confirms

Rockets hit airport in Libya’s capital, damaging passenger jet

‘We Helped You and Now You’ve Abandoned Us’

Suicide bomber strikes voter registration office in Kabul

Ten journalists among 36 killed in Afghanistan attacks

State urges Taliban yet again to ‘run for office’

Taliban forces hundreds of schools to Kunduz to close

Pakistan’s ‘disappeared’: The cost of the war against Taliban

Yemen’s Rebels Step Up Attacks on Aramco Oil Facilities

Saud-led air strike kills top Houthi official in Yemen

Israeli law group files complaint about Hamas to the ICC

The Blurred Distinction Between Armed Conflict and Civil Unrest: Recent Events in Gaza

Sahel al-Qaeda offered immunity in ‘secret French-backed deal’

Al Qaeda’s JNIM claims suicide assault in Timbuktu

Negotiations with jihadists? A radical idea gains currency in Mali

Islamic State ally stakes out territory around Lake Chad

Suspected jihadists in Mali kill more than 40 in two days of violence

Liberia: Warlord “Jungle Jabbah” jailed for 30 years in US

UN hails release of more than 200 child soldiers in South Sudan

Five likely mass graves found in Congo borderlands: U.N.

“I just want to live like a normal man”: What’s stopping CAR disarming?

Philippines’ Duterte sets window for peace talks with communist rebels

Ecuador pulls support for talks between Colombia, ELN, new venue sought

Colombians flee homes amid fresh violence, forced lockdown by rebels

Colombian civilians caught in crossfire as rebel factions fill violent vacuum

Rebels kidnap couple on Ecuador and Colombia border

Myanmar rebels say clashes with government could displace more people

Seminar on protracted armed conflict and governance – 14th May 2018

April 25, 2018

Together with Utrecht University colleagues from cultural anthopology and conflict studies, I’m co-organising a small seminar (30 attendees max) on governance and protracted armed conflict in Utrecht on 14th May 2018. The seminar which is funded by the Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges aims to bring together international lawyers, cultural anthropologists, conflict studies scholars and practitioners to share perspectives and research on these issues.

This seminar aims to discuss questions such as: What kinds of governance arrangements emerge in areas of protracted conflict? What kinds of institutions and citizenship experiences does this produce? When and how do non-state (armed) actors attain legitimacy in such arrangements? How can and should  these actors, institutions and arrangements be acknowledged and regulated by (international) law?

Here is the programme:-

Venue: Bestuursgebouw Van Lier & Eggink room, de Uithof

Preliminary program:

9:00     Coffee

9:15     Welcome and introduction


Chair: Jolle Demmers

9.30 –  10.00   Key note: “Ubi rebellium, ibi ius: Legal Governance by Armed Insurgents” – René Provost (McGill University)

10.00 – 10.30  Key note – Kees Koonings (Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University)

10.30 – 11.00  Q&A. Discussion

11.00 – 11.15 Break
11.15 – 12.30  From state rule to hybrid governance?

11.15 – 11.30  State building and democratisation in conflict areas. A mission impossible? Chris van der Borgh (Conflict Studies, UU)

11.30 – 11.45  Hybrid governance and layered legitimacy: perspectives from anthropology Martijn Oosterbaan & Nikkie Wiegink (Cultural Anthropology, UU)

11.45 – 12.00 Subcontracting internal security and repression during violent conflict, Ugur Ungor (History, UU)

12.00 – 12.10 Discussant

12.00 – 12.30 Discussion

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13:30 14:45 Hybrid governance: what role for law?

Chair: Marie-Louise Glebbeek (Cultural Anthropology, UU)

13.30 – 13.45 Law in situations of hybrid governance: A life boat or a sinking ship? – Katharine Fortin (SIM, UU)

13.45 – 14.00 Pascal Bongard (Geneva Call)

14.00 – 14.10 Discussant Brianne McGonigle Leyh (SIM, UU)

14.10 – 14.45 Discussion

14.45 – 15.00 Break 

15.00 – 16.30  Cases: Governance in conflict

Chair: Luuk Slooter (UGlobe, UU)

15.00 – 15.15 Civil society and insurgent governance: the case of El Salvador – Ralph Sprenkels (Conflict Studies, UU)

15.15 – 15.30 Brian McQuinn (ICRC)

15.30 – 15.45 The case of Kosovo Jovana Radosavljevic (New Social Initiative)

15.45 – 15.55 Discussant:

15.55 – 16.30 Discussion

16.30 – 17.00 Closing Remark

17.00 Drinks

There are a few places left. If you are interested in attending, please email Nikkie Wiegink ( to reserve a place. It would be helpful if you could explain your interest in the issue, as priority will likely be given to those most connected to the topic.


Katharine awarded Francis Lieber Prize for best 2017 LOAC book

April 24, 2018

I have not been able to post anything for quite a while, but this is a great occasion to start again. Those who have a twitter account may already have seen the announcement, but for the less ‘progressive’ members of the IHL community (like myself):

Katharine’s excellent book The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (OUP 2017) was awarded the Francis Lieber Prize two weeks ago. This prize is annually awarded by the Lieber Society of the American Society of International Law for outstanding scholarship in the field of the law of armed conflict; one prize for the most outstanding monograph in the field of law and armed conflict, and one for the best article. Previous winners include Ken Watkin, who won the book prize last year for Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict, Sandesh Sivakumaran for his The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict (2012), and Tom Ruys for ‘Armed Attack’ and Article 51 of the UN Charter (2011).

The prize for best article of 2017 was awarded to Jay Butler for his article “Amnesty for Even the Worst Offenders”, published in the Washington University Law Review. Congratulations to the winners!

We are, of course, very proud of Katharine!

San Remo New Voices in IHL Competition

April 19, 2018

On the occasion of the 41st Round Table on Current Issues of International Humanitarian Law the International Institute of Humanitarian Law and the International Committee of the Red Cross have launched a very nice new initiative which may be of interest to readers of this blog – the very first ‘Sanremo New Voices in International Humanitarian Law’ essay competition.

The winner will be invited to present at the Round Table in Sanremo (Italy) on 6-8 September 2018 and to publish the essay in the Conference proceedings.

The topic of the 2018 Round Table will be ‘Deprivation of liberty and armed conflicts: Exploring realities and remedies’. Expert discussions will focus primarily on detention during armed conflicts. One panel will also address the closely related issue of immigration-related detention.

The International Institute of Humanitarian Law and the International Committee of the Red Cross have the pleasure of inviting the submission of short essays, which address questions related to one of the following broad topics:

➡ Detention by non-State armed groups

➡ Migration-related detention

Eligibility of submissions

In order to be eligible for consideration by the organizers, essays must be

  • Written by one person, in English or French, and no longer than 2500 words (including footnotes);
  • Submitted by a person who is either 35 years old or younger, or is enrolled in a PhD programme, provided that the person is no more than 38 years old;
  • Submitted by a person who is not a staff member of the ICRC or of the IIHL (interns/ associates are eligible);
  • Fall under one of two broad topics: ‘Detention by non-States armed groups’, or ‘Immigration-related detention’;
  • Received by the organizers by 15 June 2018 (midnight, CET).

Submission procedure

  • All essays must be submitted, in PDF format, to and to (Subject: ‘Submission for the 2018 essay competition). Questions may be directed to the same email addresses.
  • Please make sure that the essay does not contain the author’s name in order to facilitate anonymous review. However, it must contain the title of the essay.
  • Please include the following information in the cover email: Full name of the author; full address and email address; phone number; date of birth; affiliation/occupation; title of the essay; a sentence stating that the author is the sole author of the essay and that the essay meets all eligibility criteria.
  • By submitting an essay, candidates confirm that they fulfil the eligibility requirements of the competition. The organizers may request formal proof of eligibility.
  • The organizers will acknowledge receipt of all essays.

Selection procedure

  • The organizers will review the essays and select a winner based on the substantive quality of the essay, along with its relevance to the above-proposed topics. The persons reviewing the essays will not know the identity of the author.
  • The winner will be invited to present the essay as part of a panel during the 41st Sanremo Round 
Table on Current Issues of International Humanitarian Law, which will take place 
on 6-8 September 2018 in Sanremo, Italy.
  • The co-organizers will fund travel costs and accommodation for the winner.
  • Once a winner is selected, all participants will be notified.

News Roundup – 9-17th April 2018

April 17, 2018

Syrian army vows to press war, rebels say strikes not enough

IRGC-controlled Syrian militia declares jihad against US forces in Syria

Kurdish-Held Detainees in Syria Are Not in a “Legal Gray Area”

‘No British involvement’ in interrogation of IS ‘Beatles’

Politics and oil: the unseen drivers of violence in Congo’s Ituri Province

Taliban overruns Afghan district, kills governor

At least four killed after rebel-army gun battle in Kashmir

Islamic Jihad Union conducts joint raid with the Taliban

Armed groups control Libyan prisons, torture rampant: U.N. report

Fighters disguised as peacekeepers attack UN base in Mali

ICC prosecutes Islamist militant on groundbreaking gender-based charges

Civilians killed in Central African Republic were ‘manipulated’: U.N.

Nigeria: 149 women and children rescued from Boko Haram

One killed, dozens wounded in clashes in Central African Republic

Ecuadorian journalists kidnapped by rebels have been killed, president says

Ecuador gives Colombian insurgents 12 hours to prove captives alive

In blow to peace, Colombia jails ex-rebel on US drug warrant