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News Roundup – 23-30 May 2017

May 30, 2017

Secretary-General says ‘No one is winning today’s wars, everyone is losing’ as Security Council debates protection of civilians in armed conflict (see here for report on protection of civilians in armed conflict).

Statement of the ICC Prosecutor to the UNSC on Libya

Airstrikes, ISIL causing civilian casualties in Syria. 

ICC says its monitoring CAR violence. 

UN human rights report maps 13 years of impunity and violence in the Central African Republic. 

What I learnt from Boko Haram? A repentant insurgent. 

Disarmed and dangerous: can former FARC guerillas adjust to civilian life? 

Colombia pushes back deadline for rebel disarmament. 

Sudan: rebels resume heavy fighting in north Darfur. 

Myanmar invites 3 previously shunned ethnic armed groups to peace process. 

Victims views on truth seeking and memorials in Nepal take centre stage in new report from ICTJ and Martin Chautari Institute. 

Philippines turns to heavy firepower as hunt for rebel leader narrows. 

Philippines calls off peace talks with communist rebels. 

News Roundup 15-22 May

May 23, 2017

The complexity of insurgencies in our world today

Armed Groups Allow Evacuations To Begin From Embattled CAR Town: UN

Taliban Categorically Rejects Peace Talks With Afghan Government

Rebel soldiers shut down Ivorian cities

Egypt: From military-insurgents confrontation, Sinai conflict shifts to civil war

Turkey Planning New Operations in Syria, Iraq Against Kurdish Armed Groups

Sudanese army, SLM-MM in fierce fighting in Darfur

Chhattisgarh: Maoist arrest indicates rebel revival near Gondia

News Roundup – 10-15 May 2017

May 16, 2017

Mexico Rejects Label as World’s Second-Deadliest Conflict Zone

Heavy gunfire as mutiny spreads in Ivory Coast cities

Boko Haram blamed for farmers deaths in Maiduguri

Austria jails Syrian rebel fighter for killing soldiers

Syria army ‘moves into area’ where rebels evicted ISIL

Over 2,000 rebels, families evacuate Damascus district, according to Syrian state media

US says Assad using ‘crematorium’ to hide mass killings

With tunnel lifeline cut, pressure mounts on Syrian rebel enclave

Afghan forces face challenge of absorbing former insurgent

Fighting Escalates in Northern Mynmar Shan State as Peace Conference Looms

According to Thailand, Insurgents Bomb Southern Mali

News Roundup – 2-9th May 2017

May 9, 2017

Abuses by non-State actors no excuse for violations by governments – UN human rights chief. 

Islamic State video shows beheading of Russian intelligence agent. 

Syria’s de-escalation zones: we don’t trust Russia. 

Syria’s Kurds march on to Raqqa and the sea. 

Series of reports by RUDAW reporters on seeking accountability for ISIS crimes: see here, here, here, here, here and here.

Taliban teachers: how militants are infiltrating Afghan schools. 

Profile: Ismail Haniya, Hamas’ political chief. 

Boko Haram: Nigeria winning the battle but losing the war?

Welcoming release of Chibok girls, UN urges support for their rehabilitation. 

Video of UN investigator murders leaves Congo government facing scrutiny. 

Central African Republic: armed groups target civilians. 

New rebel group threatens to intensify South Sudan’s war.

South Sudan: Weary frightened displaced civilians in Upper Nile at imminent risk of further violence. 

Mozambique rebel movement RENAMO extends truce indefinitely. 

Prison sentence for academic in separatist region of Ukraine. 

Crisis Group Report: Managing Turkey’s PKK conflict: the case of Nusaybin. 

Some legal blog posts you may have missed:

Will the ICC launch a full investigation into Afghanistan?

Will there be justice for Syria?

A series of posts on Just Security and Opinio Juris on Israel’s attacks on Hezbollah in Syria: see here, here, and here.

Why Syria’s new de-escalation zones should not be confused with safe zones?

Achieving justice through restorative means in Colombia: new developments in implementing the peace deal. 

The War Report 2016

May 5, 2017

In late March 2017, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and human rights published The War Report 2016. This 100 page report identifies, describes, and discusses the situations of armed violence that amounted in 2016 to armed conflicts, in accordance with the definitions under international humanitarian law (IHL) and international criminal law (ICL).

The War Report found that in 2016, at least 49 armed conflicts occurred on the territory of 28 states and territories: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Eritrea, Georgia, Iraq, India, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Moldova, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Western Sahara, and Yemen.

A Majority of Non-International Armed Conflicts

36 of these 49 armed conflicts were ‘non-international’ in character, between armed non-state armed actors or between one or more states and one or more armed non-state actors. These took place in the territory of 20 states: Afghanistan, Colombia, the DRC, Egypt, India, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Yemen. This majority of non-international armed conflicts (NIACs), as in previous editions, highlights the changing nature of warfare.

Key Developments in Selected Armed Conflicts: From the Headlines to Forgotten Conflicts

The 2016 edition has also highlighted key legal and political developments in selected armed conflicts: Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Western Sahara, the military occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Mali, South Sudan, Turkey, Ukraine and Yemen. For each conflict, the War Report presents its history, parties to the conflict, key developments in 2016, and war crimes allegations, investigations, and prosecutions. Some of these conflicts regularly make the headlines, like Syria or Iraq, but others are completely forgotten, like the armed conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Western Sahara, Mali or South Sudan.

The NIAC in Mali led to interesting jurisprudence by the International Criminal Court on the destruction of cultural property, the so-called al-Mahdi case, whereby Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was sentenced to nine years imprisonment for intentionally directing attacks against 10 mausoleums and mosques in Timbuktu between 30 June and 11 July 2012.

Clashes in South Sudan throughout 2016 included continuing ethnic violence, reports of widespread sexual violence and rape by government forces, looting, and indiscriminate attacks. Increase in incitement to ethnic violence led to warnings that the situation may escalate into genocide.

Heavy Toll on Civilians

A common feature of several current armed conflicts identified in the War Report 2016 is the heavy toll on civilians who are often trapped in sieges and battlefields in cities. The use of explosive weapons in populated area, often leading to the destruction of essential civilian infrastructure has a devastating humanitarian impact in many situations of armed conflicts’ she adds.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban’s Spring offensive ‘Operation Omari’, launched in April 2016, hit Kabul with an attack that killed dozens and wounded more than 300 people. Attacks intensified from August to October 2016, including on the Afghan defense ministry, killing 35 and injuring more than 103 in Kabul.

In Mosul, Iraq, around 650,000 civilians are trapped in the city since October 2016, when the Iraqi government forces launched the operation to retake the city from control by the Islamic State (IS).

In Syria, the battle of Aleppo was one of the longest sieges in modern warfare, leaving an estimated 31,000 people dead, almost a tenth of estimated overall Syrian war casualties.

In Yemen, more than 6,800 people were killed and 35,000 injured from March 2015 until August 2016. More than one-third of all Saudi-led multinational coalition raids have hit civilian sites, such as school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure.

Increased Resort to Military Responses and International Involvement in the Context of Current Crisis

We also observe a resort to often heavy-handed military response and international involvement in contemporary conflicts, as in Libya, Syria and Yemen. This might have important legal consequences, notably on the qualification of the conflicts and the responsibility of the actors involved.

In Syria, foreign involvement significantly increased since the beginning of the conflict five years ago. In 2016, 16 states were involved, including the United States of America (US), Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. As such, the War Report considers that there is arguably an international armed conflict between Syria and members of the US-led international coalition and Turkey, due to the absence of the Syrian government’s consent to the aerial air strikes conducted by these actors on Syrian territory.

While Libya has been marred since 2014 by armed violence between several non-state armed groups, notably the ‘Libya Shield’, the group of militia known as ‘Libya Dawn’ and the Ansar al-Sharia armed group. With the integration of Ansar al-Sharia in the Islamic State (IS) and the advent of IS in the conflict, the year 2016 witnessed the beginning of another round of armed violence. In August 2016, the U.S. launched sustained air operations against IS in Sirte at the invitation of the unity government. As the intervention took place with consent, the nature of the armed conflict remains non-international.

While Ukraine was involved in a non-international armed conflict opposing the armed forces of the Government of Ukraine to pro-Russian separatist armed groups, The War Report argues that there might be also a parallel international armed conflict with Russia, a qualification that Ukraine claims from the outset but that Russia denies.

News Round Up 24 April-1st May

May 2, 2017

Boko Haram insurgency not over – Buhari

Government forces advance against rebels north of Hama

CAR holds unprecedented disarmament talks with rebel groups

New Turkish-backed rebel group vows to “liberate” Syria

Erdogan calls Shia paramilitary groups ‘terrorists’, threatening Turkish intervention in Iraq

Israel Attacks Pro-Syria Groups

Islamic State immobilizes three rebel vehicles in East Qalamoun, Daraa

Maoist rebels kill 24 police in central India: official

Myanmar gov’t, armed groups agree on 8 points for continued peace process

Open Letter to the UN Security Council on Peacekeeping in Mali

CEO resigns after firm admits paying armed groups in Syria

Russia to supply power to rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine

Sudanese intelligence accuse Kiir on chairing rebel meeting

PKK responsible for Turkish airstrikes in Shingal: Peshmerga Ministry

Over 200 Armed Groups in Syria Express Commitment to Truce

9 Iranian border guards killed in armed clash

In Setback to Government, Supreme Court Upholds Order Against Use of Excessive Force by Army …

Iraqi Parliament to vote on draft to ban foreign armed groups

DR Congo: 30 civilians killed during clashes

Suspected Muslim insurgents in S. Thailand kill 4 soldiers


News Roundup – 20-24 April 2017

April 25, 2017

Libya’s warring sides reach diplomatic breakthrough in Rome

Kenyan troops report killing 52 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia

Israeli fire kills three in Syria at pro-government military base: militia, monitor

Lebanese army says Islamic State leader killed, 10 arrested near border

Al-Qaeda’s Zawahiri calls for ‘guerrilla war’ in Syria

US ground forces kill ‘Islamic State’ (IS) militant linked to Turkey nightclub attack

As bodies wash up from the Tigris, some see signs of score-settling

Suspected US drone strike reportedly kills three al-Qaida operatives in Yemen

Qatari hunters kidnapped in Iraq freed after 16 months

Casualty toll exceeds 100 in Taliban attack on army base

US ‘not refuting’ claims Russia aids Afghan Taliban

How active are Indian jihadists in Afghanistan?

‘Maoist rebels’ kill 25 soldiers in central India