Αρχείο κατηγορίας International Humanitarian Law

« Violence, use of teargas at Greek border ‘matter of great worry’ – UN refugee agency»



« The United Nations refugee agency today expressed concern about yesterday’s violence at the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia near Eidomeni and the extensive scenes of teargas in use.

Spokesperson Adrian Edwards of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) described the development as “a matter of great worry” to the agency, stressing that it should be such a matter to all who are concerned with Europe’s response to the situation of refugees and migrants.

“Time and again in recent months we have seen tension unfolding at various European borders, between security forces on the one hand and people fleeing war and in need of help on the other,” he said. “People get hurt and property is damaged. Harm is done to perceptions of refugees and to Europe’s image alike. Everyone loses.”

In recent days, media and public attention has focused on how the European Union-Turkey agreement is being implemented in the Aegean islands and in Turkey.

“We should not forget the many other refugees and migrants who continue to be affected by the situation, especially the nearly 46,000 on the Greek mainland who arrived before the agreement took effect,” he said. At Eidomeni, about 11,000 have been sleeping for many weeks now in the open in dismal conditions, fuelling hopelessness and despair, he added.

UNHCR is ready to support the voluntary transfer of people to sites to be put in place by the Greek Government, including with the necessary services while registration and processing is taking place. “This is urgent,” he said.

In the meantime, in Eidomeni, UNHCR together with the Greek Government, Greek non-governmental organizations, and other partners are providing food, medical support, help for persons with specific needs, and prevention and response to sexual and gender based violence.

A wider solution, namely to relocate those who may qualify for international protection to other European States, has been agreed for many months. “It needs action,” the spokesperson said.

“Violence is wrong whatever the circumstances,” he stressed, expressing hope that Europe will take the necessary steps now, as UNHCR stands ready to help Governments further in fulfilling their obligations to refugees. »

More Information: here


« Security Council renews sanctions against those blocking peace in South Sudan »


«7 April 2016 – Determining that the situation in South Sudan poses a continuing threat to regional peace and security, the United Nations Security Council today renewed, until 1 June, its sanctions regime imposed last year against those blocking peace in the war-torn country, including a travel ban and a freeze on their assets.

Unanimously adopting a new resolution, the Council also decided to extend, until 1 July, the mandate of the Panel of Experts overseeing the sanctions, with the intention of reviewing it and deciding, no later than 15 April, whether to renew it further.

In a separate action, the Council issued a Presidential Statement read out by Ambassador Liu Jieyi of China, which holds the 15-member body’s presidency for the month of April, welcoming progress made on steps outlined in its 17 March presidential statement on the matter. They included implementation of the Juba security arrangements and the return of some members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) to the capital.

The Council nonetheless expressed regret that the steps set forth in the earlier text had not been fully met. It strongly urged all parties to complete them and to implement fully the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.»

More information: here


«Remembering Rwanda, Ban urges a firm stand against hate speech»


«7 April 2016 – On the 22nd anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today highlighted the role hate speech plays in inciting division and violence, and urged the international community to “fight genocide ideology.”

In his message for the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, the Secretary-General noted that genocide is not a single event, and part of a process that takes time and preparation.

“One of the key warning signs is the spread of hate speech in public discourse and the media that targets particular communities,” Mr. Ban said, noting this year’s theme for the Day, ‘Fighting Genocide Ideology.’

He urged Governments, the judiciary and civil society to “stand firm against hate speech and those who incite division and violence.”

With a nod to the instability ongoing in parts of the Great Lakes, he urged taking inspiration from survivors’ courage in showing that reconciliation is possible even after such a tragedy.

“With the Great Lakes region still facing serious threats to peace and security, healing and reconstruction remain essential,” he said.

In 1994, more than 800,000 people were systematically murdered throughout Rwanda. The vast majority were Tutsi, but moderate Hutu, Twa and others were also targeted.

The Secretary-General will join survivors of the genocide in Rwanda and the Holocaust next week, when the United Nations officially marks the Day of Reflection on Monday, 11 April.

This will be one of numerous events underway over the course of the next 100 days, which is the length of time that the genocide was underway. The commemoration will end on 4 July, which is Rwanda’s “Liberation Day.” »

More information: here


« In Geneva, senior UN official urges all-inclusive approach to stop virulent spread of violent extremism»


«7 April 2016 – Violent extremism is an affront to the very purposes and principles of the United Nations, the Head of the world body’s Geneva headquarters said today, urging government delegations and experts gathered there to back the comprehensive approach needed to proactively address the drivers of the scourge, including through support of the Secretary-General’s action plan on the issue.

“[Violent extremism] not only challenges international peace and security, but undermines the crucial work that Member States and the UN family are conducting to uphold human rights, take humanitarian action and promote sustainable development, said Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

As the world had witnessed terrorist attacks in Belgium, Cote d’Ivoire, Iraq, Mali, Pakistan, Turkey and other places over the past weeks there could be no doubt, he said, about the relevance of the topic of the two-day Geneva Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism – The Way Forward, co-hosted by the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations.

Building on the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and the formal debate of the UN General Assembly on 12 and 16 February 2016, the Geneva Conference aims to provide an opportunity for the international community to share experiences and good practices in addressing the drivers of violent extremism and to build support for the Plan of Action.

The first day of the conference will be dedicated to a meeting of senior experts on key issues related to the prevention of violent extremism. The second day will feature a high-level segment. Heads of international and regional organizations and heads of UN agencies will also participate in the discussions on action at the national, regional and global level during the day. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be among the top-level officials addressing the conference.

For his part, Mr. Møller stressed that: “Violent extremism has become a hallmark of our time. It affects all of us, everywhere.” As such, he said the he UN is well suited to support Member States in adopting the comprehensive approach that is needed to proactively address the drivers of violent extremism.

UN agencies and other international organizations in Geneva work at the crossroads of peace, rights and wellbeing and are at the core of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Providing sustainable development opportunities, reducing inequalities, safeguarding human rights and providing a hub for mediation and peace negotiations, help to create a context and change realities on the ground that are better suited to resist extremism,” he said.

Further, the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action provides an important framework to address the issue at hand. The Plan has been welcomed by the General Assembly, showing the positive commitment of the international community to unite and act against this threat.

“To put the Plan into action, contributions from all actors are needed. The Secretary-General has put forward a multidimensional and ‘All of UN’ approach, explained Mr. Møller. Additionally, while recognizing the importance of the principle of national ownership to effectively address violent extremism, the Plan calls on all relevant actors – governments, civil society, academia, community and religious leaders – to act in unison through an “all-of-Government” and “all-of-Society” approach.

During a press conference after the morning session of the conference, Jehanghir Khan, Director, UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Platform (CTITF) and the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) said there is unprecedented attention to the spread of terrorism and violent extremism. “And so this is a clear and present concern, you may say a clear and present danger, and the need for international cooperation has never been more than now.”

He went on to stress that not only is the Secretary-General’s plan a call to action it is a call to unity. “We need to demonstrate to terrorists and violent extremists […] that the world is united, not just rhetorically but united behind the plan of action the [Secretary-General] has put forward,” and which included 70 “very concrete” recommendations.»

More information: here



«Security Council requests options on deploying UN police in crisis-torn Burundi»


«1 April 2016 – Paving the way for enhanced United Nations engagement in Burundi, the Security Council this evening requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to explore with the Government and regional actors options for a police deployment “to increase UN capacity to monitor the security situation, advance the rule of law and promote respect for human rights” in the country.

Unanimously adopting a French-led resolution, the Council reiterated “its deep concern about the persistence of violence in Burundi, as well as the persisting political impasse in the country, and the attendant serious humanitarian consequences,” and requested Mr. Ban, in consultation with the Burundi Government and in coordination with the African Union (AU), to present within 15 days options for deploying a UN police component.

The Council further requested the Secretary-General to enhance the United Nations’ engagement in the country through strengthening the team of the Special Adviser for conflict prevention, including in Burundi, in order to work with the Government of Burundi and other concerned stakeholders to support the inter-Burundian dialogue.

Burundi was thrown into crisis this past April when President Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term that he went on to win in July. To date, it has been reported that more than 400 people have been killed, more than 250,000 have fled the nation, and thousands more have been arrested and possibly subjected to human rights violations.

Urging the Government and all parties to reject any kind of violence and condemn any public statement inciting violence or hatred, the Security Council in its resolution demanded that all sides in Burundi refrain from any action that would threaten peace and stability in the country.

The Council went on to stress the urgency of convening a genuine and inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue, based on the respect of the Constitution and the Arusha Agreement, in coordination with the Government and all stakeholders committed to a peaceful solution, both inside and outside the country, in order to find a consensual and nationally owned solution to the current crisis.

While the text noted a decrease in the number of killings, it nevertheless expressed the Council’s concern over reports of increased disappearances and acts of torture, and underscored its deep concern for the continued worsening of the humanitarian situation. The Council also strongly condemned all violations and abuses of human rights in Burundi, “whoever perpetrates them.”

Welcoming the consent of the Burundian authorities to increase the number of human rights observers and military experts of the AU, the Council called for their full and speedy deployment in Burundi, notes that 30 human rights observers and 15 military observers have been deployed so far, and urged the Government of Burundi and other concerned stakeholders to provide them with full cooperation in order to facilitate the implementation of their mandate.

Also by the resolution, the 15-nation Council “expressed its intention to consider measures against all actors, inside and outside Burundi, whose actions and statements contribute to the perpetuation of violence and impede the search for a peaceful solution.” »

More information: here

Source: UN

« Updated Commentaries bring fresh insights on continued relevance of Geneva Conventions»


«What is acceptable and what is prohibited in armed conflict? The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 form the foundation of International Humanitarian Law and provide a framework setting out the answers to that question.

In the 1950’s, the ICRC published a set of Commentaries on these Conventions, giving practical guidance on their implementation. But to reflect the new developments in law and practice since then, the organization has commissioned a new set of commentaries which seek to reflect the current interpretations of the Conventions. The first installment, an updated Commentary on the First Convention is now being published. Jean-Marie Henckaerts, who heads the commentaries project explains more:

What’s the main aim of the updated Commentaries?

The main aim of the updated Commentaries is to give people an understanding of the law as it is interpreted today, so that it is applied effectively in today’s armed conflicts. We see this as an important contribution to reaffirming the continued relevance of the Conventions, generating respect for them and strengthening protection for victims caught up in armed conflict. The experience gained in applying and interpreting the Conventions over the last six decades has generated a detailed understanding of how they operate in armed conflicts all over the world and in contexts very different to those that led to their adoption. With this, the new Commentaries go far beyond their first editions from the 1950s, which were largely based on the preparatory work for the Conventions and on the experience of the Second World War.

Can you give an example of issues that the Commentaries clarify?

The Commentaries shed light on many issues, from how the various rules of IHL apply in the complex conflicts of today, to the obligation Parties have vis-à-vis the wounded and sick. For example, the First Geneva Convention requires the wounded and sick to be protected and respected. But what does that mean in practice? What standard of medical care is required for the treatment of wounded and sick? How can the wounded and sick be collected and cared for when there are no troops on the ground? The answers to these and other questions have both legal and operational dimensions which the Commentary on the First Convention addresses.

Who do you anticipate will use the Commentaries?

The Commentaries are an essential tool for practitioners like military commanders, officers and lawyers to be able to ensure protection of victims during armed conflict. They will be used for training members of the armed forces, preparing instructions for armed forces and ensuring that military orders comply with the law. But they will also be useful for judges who have to apply humanitarian law, including in criminal courts and tribunals where those accused of violating the law may be prosecuted. Other users include lawyers in government, international organizations, the ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as well as academics. We know that the 1950s Commentaries have been useful for them. So we are confident that the updated Commentaries will become an equally important tool as they provide more nuanced insights and references…

How do the Commentaries reflect the prevalence of today’s non-international armed conflicts?

As the majority of conflicts today are of a non-international character, the regulation of these conflicts has become a crucial issue. Article 3 is a central provision of the Conventions on these conflicts and the new Commentary provides a comprehensive interpretation of all the aspects of this «mini Convention». These include its scope of application, the requirement of humane treatment, the care for wounded and sick, humanitarian activities and criminal aspects and compliance. But it also deals with pressing topics such as sexual violence and non-refoulement, which is the prohibition of sending people back to countries where their lives could be in danger.

What other developments do the Commentaries take into account?

A good example is the way the protection of women is addressed. The reference in the original Commentary to women as ‘weaker than oneself and whose honour and modesty call for respect’ would no longer be considered appropriate. Of course, the original commentaries were a product of the social and historical context of the time. Today, however, there is a deeper understanding that women, men, girls and boys have specific needs and capacities linked to the different ways armed conflict may affect them. The new Commentary reflects the social and international legal developments in relation to equality of the sexes.

Do the new Commentaries take into account other areas of international law?

When the Geneva Conventions were adopted, many areas of international law were still in their infancy, such as human rights law, international criminal law and refugee law, but they have grown significantly in the meantime. These areas of law are complementary to humanitarian law as they all seek to provide protection to persons in need of it. Humanitarian law is not a self-contained body of law; there is a lot of communication with other areas of international law. Therefore, current interpretations offered in the new Commentaries take these developments in other areas into account whenever they are relevant for the interpretation of a Convention rule. There are also developments in other, more technical areas such as the law of treaties or the law on State responsibility which are also reflected in the new Commentaries.»

Μore information: here

Source: ICRC

«In ‘breakthrough,’ UN refugee agency reaches embattled Yemeni governorate with life-saving aid»

pubil«23 March 2016 – Calling it a “breakthrough,” the United Nations refugee agency today reported that earlier this week, 13 trucks managed to deliver blankets,mattresses, and other badlyneeded emergency relief items to Taiz governorate in Yemen.

It was the first time a convoy from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) made it through all the way from Aden to Taizz, which is located in the highlands of country’s southwest.

Dispatched in coordination with the Government of Yemen’s High Relief Committee, it arrived on Sunday in Mashra’a Wa Hadnan, a district immediately south of the embattled Taiz city centre. Distribution is reportedly starting this week for 500 displaced people, others who have returned to Taiz, plus local families who have been affected by the conflict.

Meanwhile, another 13 trucks are on their way to nearby Sabir Al Mawadim district and will be distributed among another 500 families. In Mashra’a Wa Hadnan, the situation is now calm according to the UN, and some displaced families have been returning to their homes, while fighting persists on the eastern part of Sabir Al Mawadim.

“The two districts host over 7,500 displaced people. It is the first time that assistance has been delivered there using the direct route from Aden,” said UNHCR Representative in Yemen, Johannes van der Klaauw, in a press release.

“The wider governorate of Taiz hosts 555,048 internally displaced people, the biggest concentration in the country and equal to almost a quarter of the 2.4 million total Yemen-wide,” he added.

For months, UNHCR has been advocating for regular and sustained humanitarian access to Taiz city and governorate. Now, with key roads into Taiz reopened since 11 March after nine months of blocked access, UNHCR is taking advantage of the opportunity to get help to people who desperately need it. This includes aid, vital protection and shelter help.

While continued intense fighting is being reported in parts of Yemen, a lull in the conflict in other areas is opening space for UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations, including local humanitarian actors, to reach more people. To the north of Taiz, in Ibb governorate, which hosts over 100,000 displaced people, UNHCR is currently mapping how to address the needs.

Further north, reduced violence along the Yemen-Saudi border over the last two weeks has allowed the agency to distribute emergency aid in Sa’ada. In coordination with relevant authorities, UNHCR is hoping further assessments of needs and distributions will be possible over the next days.

Later this week, UNHCR and a partner will distribute emergency relief carried in a third convoy from Aden to the Ash Shamayatayn district of Taiz, an area that hosts 159,444 displaced people, according to their protection monitoring. Since October, UNHCR has been providing rental subsidies, cash assistance, legal assistance, and counselling as well as psychosocial care through a partner organization.

“Ultimately, a halt to the hostilities remains the only way to end the suffering and ensure access to humanitarian aid across the country”, said Mr. van der Klaauw. “UNHCR is hopeful that a lasting, country-wide ceasefire can be brokered among the parties as this will open up further space to provide essential humanitarian assistance on the ground.»

More information: here


New Book: International Law and Child Soldiers

International Law and Child Soldiers
C A Waschefort

This book commences with an analysis of the current state of child soldiering internationally. Thereafter the proscriptive content of contemporary norms on the prohibition of the use and recruitment of child soldiers is evaluated, so as to determine whether these norms are capable of better enforcement. An ‘issues-based’ approach is adopted, in terms of which no specific regime of law, such as international humanitarian law (IHL), is deemed dominant. Instead, universal and regional human rights law, international criminal law and IHL are assessed cumulatively, so as to create a mutually reinforcing web of protection. Ultimately, it is argued that the effective implementation of child soldier prohibitive norms does not require major changes to any entity or functionary engaged in such prevention; rather, it requires the constant reassessment and refinement of all such entities and functionaries, and here, some changes are suggested. International judicial, quasi-judicial and non-judicial entities and functionaries most relevant to child soldier prevention are critically assessed. Ultimately the conclusions reached are assessed in light of a case study on the use and recruitment of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

More, here…

Hart Publishing, here…

New Book: International Peace Conferences

Bertrand G. Ramcharan

This book has emerged out of the author’s experience as Director of an innovative peacemaking, peacekeeping and humanitarian initiative, the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, between 1992 and 1996. What was striking about this conference was the experiment of two full-time Co-Chairmen, one from the United Nations and one from the European Union, who laboured tirelessly for peace in different parts of the former Yugoslavia for three and a half years. The strategies and organization of the conference had to be pieced together from the start by the Co-Chairmen and their colleagues; only in retrospect could the question whether there might have been experiences of international peace conferences that might have been useful at the beginning of this process be reviewed. This research is contained in Part One of this book, which offers a review of the role of international peace conferences in history. Part Two contains a case study of the strategies and experiences of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia.

More, here…

Brill, here…

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon : «Dangerous escalation» in Ukraine Crisis

«Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he is alarmed by what seems to be a “dangerous escalation” in the crisis in Ukraine with reports of intensified fighting in the country south-east near the border with Russia, as the Security Council held emergency talks on the latest developments.

“The international community cannot allow the situation to escalate further nor can a continuation be allowed of the violence and destruction that the conflict has wrought in eastern Ukraine,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.


Briefing the Security Council on the latest developments, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said that illegal armed groups operating in the Donetsk region have reportedly intensified their activities over the last two days, spreading violence along Ukraine’s southern coast, in the direction of the key strategic port of Mariupol.

It has further been reported that several small towns and villages in the area are now in the midst of heavy fighting, while the town of Novoazovsk has been seized by the armed groups. The battle for Lugansk continues, and hostilities in Donetsk in several key strategic areas have been spreading, he added.»

More, here.

Source : UN News Centre