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Legality and legitimacy
Dominic McGoldrick

War crimes trials before international tribunals 6 War crimes trials before international tribunals: legality and legitimacy Dominic McGoldrick I Introduction An assessment of the historical place of any trials requires both a micro and a macro analysis. The microanalysis focuses on the internal processes and procedures of the trials. The macroanalysis focuses on the broader political and historical context. Both levels of analysis can review issues of legality and legitimacy.1 This essay presents a comparative critique of war crimes trials before the

in Domestic and international trials, 1700–2000
A Military Tactic or Collateral Damage?
Abdulkarim Ekzayez
Ammar Sabouni

Nine years of continuous conflict in Syria have borne witness to various atrocities against civilians, some of which amount to war crimes. Most of the involved parties have committed such atrocities, but the Government of Syria (GoS) and its allies remain at the top of the list of perpetrators. Out of a population of 21 million in 2010, more than half a million Syrians were killed as of January 2019 with more than 13 million displaced either inside the country, in neighbouring countries or elsewhere. Moreover, civilian infrastructures, including but not limited to health, have been severely affected, resulting in interrupted services and suffering. Looking at patterns of these atrocities, timing of occurrence, and consequences, could allow us to draw conclusions about motivations. While the GoS maintains these attacks were against combating civilians, we argue that civilians and civilian infrastructure were military and strategic targets, rather than collateral damage to the attacks committed by the GoS and its allies. The motives behind attacking civilians may be related to military gains in imposing submission and surrender; whereas others may be linked to long-term goals such as forced displacement and demographic engineering. This paper argues, supported by several examples throughout the course of the Syrian conflict, that GoS has used a five-point military tactic with targeting healthcare being at the heart of it. This military tactic has been extremely effective in regaining most opposition strongholds at the expense of civilian suffering and health catastrophe.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Arjun Claire

, security of staff and access to populations became important priorities, and témoignage came to be increasingly seen as jeopardising MSF’s operational presence ( Binet, 2010 : 43). Around the same time, the International Criminal Court was established to promote accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Although MSF collectively decided not to cooperate with the Court, it could do little to prevent its public statements from being used as evidence

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
The Law and Politics of Responding to Attacks against Aid Workers
Julia Brooks
Rob Grace

scrambled to treat the wounded while appealing to Afghan, US, and UN officials to stop the attack. By the time the firing stopped over an hour later, at least forty-two people had been killed – including MSF staff, hospital patients, and family members – over thirty were injured, and thirty-three were missing. MSF later alleged that the attack constituted a war crime and called for an independent and impartial investigation. The bombing of MSF’s trauma centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan by a US Air Force AC-130U gunship quickly garnered headlines around the world, generating

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Sophie Roborgh

issues such as attacks on health care, talking about documenting war crimes, there are of course even more strict protocols to follow.’ Hence, quality is emphasised over quantity. Another representative remarked: ‘We don’t need one [more piece of] evidence that those attacks are happening. We just need to analyse the data that we know are true. […] Whether it is 100 attacks or 120, it means nothing. At the end, one attack [on a health facility] is a crime’ (interview with a

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Negotiated Exceptions at Risk of Manipulation
Maelle L’Homme

region of its inhabitants (a clear objective of Serb nationalists in the Bosnian war, for example). Conversely, civilians have been used as human shields by rebel groups keeping them hostage in an attempt to secure military positions or to force governmental forces to commit war crimes. This was, for example, the strategy of the LTTE when the Sri Lankan government troops advanced on the Vanni region in early 2009. Ultimately, what matters is the reason underlying the decision to open or to call for a humanitarian corridor. Corridors can be misappropriated by a third

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Visual Advocacy in the Early Decades of Humanitarian Cinema
Valérie Gorin

, 2012 ; Veeder, 1990 ). The newly founded League of Red Cross had sixty films available in 1921, as well as Italian, Swedish, and English Red Cross societies. The ARA (1919–23) was also keen on using cinema to raise awareness, with films such as Starvation produced as early as 1919, to America’s Gift to Famine Stricken Russia released after the end of famine in 1923. The former followed American food relief operations in Central and Southern Europe after World War I amid persistent fighting, leading the film crew to witness war crimes in the Baltics. The latter

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Timothy Longman

genocide. In subsequent years, however, it became increasingly clear that even as extensive efforts were made to hold genocide perpetrators accountable, RPF officials involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity would face no consequences. Although the ICTR was authorised to include RPF crimes within its consideration, the ICTR brought no charges against RPF officials. In fact, when Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte attempted to launch investigations into RPF crimes, the RPF used its influence to have the tribunal reorganised and a new prosecutor appointed. In the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Hakim Khaldi

. This approach showed that it was possible to maintain activities even when ‘jihadist’ groups like Hayat Tahrir Sham (HTS) have control over the area. In the north-east, the experience was one of ‘democratic confederalism’ – a system which proved unable to prevent discrimination against the Arab populations in accessing care at the MSF-supported hospital in Kobani. In this same region, information on the war crimes committed by the anti-IS coalition received

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
How Can Humanitarian Analysis, Early Warning and Response Be Improved?
Aditya Sarkar
Benjamin J. Spatz
Alex de Waal
Christopher Newton
, and
Daniel Maxwell

, and much of the mortality occurred outside the areas declared to be in famine ( Checchi and Robinson, 2013 ). Our use of ‘mass starvation’ encompasses a range of situations of extreme food insecurity, including famine-likely, or localised famine-like conditions, which may not always be aligned with publicly available reporting through the IPC (see Maxwell and Hailey, 2021 ). Resonating with the definition of starvation as a war crime, it also includes the deprivation of

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs