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Two new vacancies at Geneva Call: Training Coordinator and Thematic Adviser

August 12, 2016

There are two interesting new vacancies at Geneva Call: training coordinator and thematic adviser.

The Training Coordinator will contribute to the implementation of Geneva Call’s operational strategy by providing training and pedagogical support. She/he will adapt and further develop training/dissemination material on issues related to international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL), manage Geneva Call’s pool of trainers and ensure the quality of trainings delivered to target audiences. She/he will also develop internal policies and guidelines.The Training Coordinator will work within the Policy and Legal Unit of Geneva Call and report to its Director.

The Thematic Adviser will contribute to the implementation of Geneva Call’s operational strategy by providing thematic and legal expertise on issues related to international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL). In particular, she/he will contribute to the development of new thematic areas of engagement with ANSAs for Geneva Call (forced displacement and the protection of the medical mission). She/he will also contribute to the development of Geneva Call’s community based protection approach, support internal capacity-building and knowledge management and represent Geneva Call in relevant expert meetings. The Thematic Legal Adviser will work within the Policy and Legal Unit of Geneva Call and report to its Director.

Please click here and for details on the positions.

New article: The application of human rights law to everyday life under rebel control

August 10, 2016

My article on The Application of Human Rights Law to Everyday Life under Rebel Control has recently been published by the Netherlands International Law Review and is available via open access. In the article, I draw upon social science literature to offer a new assessment of the normative value of human rights law visàvis international humanitarian law in territory under armed groups’ control. The research presented in the article has emerged out of research conducted for a larger study on armed groups and human rights law that will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

In the article, I explore the notion of ‘governance‘  in political science literature, demonstrating that armed groups engage in governance activities more than lawyers often acknowledge. I demonstrate that governance activities by armed groups engage in law enforcement activities in a manner that is much more nuanced than is often noted in legal literature. I also argue that while legal literature tends to present law enforcement activities and territorial control in binary terms (i.e. armed groups are either State-like or non-State-like, territory is either controlled by the State or the armed group, law enforcement activities are either provided by the State or the armed group), research from political scientists shows us that the provision of law enforcement activities by armed groups is a complex phenomenon that is hard to categorise in absolute terms. Political science literature repeatedly demonstrates that governance structures in areas under rebel control are often more complex than it is often thought, with input from, and alliances between, multiple players including armed groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), religious leaders and the State.

I also present  the idea that ‘everyday life‘ continues in conflict zones, more often than it was once thought. Indeed, it is increasingly noted in research emerging from political sciences and anthropology that the experience of everyday life in times of armed conflict has been all too often excluded from empirical research. Instead, there has been a general tendency for an analysis of non-international armed conflicts to be conducted in a top-down manner, focusing mainly on the identification of the parties and their motivations. As a result, the dominant accounts of armed conflict have tended to focus on how individuals living in their midst cope with violence as victims. In order to redress this balance, a growing body of researchers have taken what has been termed a ‘micropolitical’ approach to armed conflict, which focuses on the social dynamics of daily life.  A micropolitical approach concentrates on how individuals and groups utilise formal and informal power structures in order to achieve their goals within organisations. The research that has emerged from this bottom-up approach has radically challenged dominant narratives of armed conflict and adjusted the image of the individual’s role within it. One of the key observations emerging from micropolitical studies is the idea that individuals retain a large degree of agency in the midst of armed conflict.

Taking these two ideas as my starting point, I consider how international humanitarian law and human rights law can be applied in a complementary manner to regulate the everyday life of civilians who are not involved in hostilities. I argue that that while it might be tempting to imagine that concerns relating to rights such as the freedom of movement, the right to work or protection from common crime are completely displaced by considerations of physical security and survival in times of armed conflict, in reality this is often not the case. I also argue that the nexus test which has been developed in the context of jurisdiction decisions in international criminal law can provide helpful guidance on where the parameters of international humanitarian law vis-a-vis human rights law should be drawn.

Footnotes found in the original article.

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


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