“I guess there isn’t a rule book for what might be unacceptable to do to another human being.” –Katniss Everdeen

MockingjayIf you are familiar with the third installment of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, you know about the violent conflict between the Capitol and the Rebellion. Mockingjay is set in the fictional country of Panem, where both parties to the conflict operate without rules on how to conduct warfare. If they lived in our world, however, many of their actions would be violations of international humanitarian law—the laws of war contained in the Geneva Conventions—which all states have agreed to follow when engaging in armed conflict.

***SPOILER ALERT: This post describes some pretty crucial scenes in Mockingjay, the final book/film in the Hunger Games series. If you already know what happens in the third installment, you want to watch the newly released film through an IHL lens, or you don’t mind knowing some important details before you read the book/watch the movie, please read on! ***  Continue Reading »

A Turkish Armored Column overlooks Kobani, a Syrian town besieged by ISIS forces. (Reuters)

A Turkish armored column overlooks Kobani, a Syrian town besieged by ISIS forces. (Reuters)

Recent news clips have been filled with stories explaining images like the one above: Turkish troops looking across the border at the brutal fighting mere kilometers away. Some in the international community saw this as an opportunity to call for increased Turkish involvement in the Syrian conflict. But often absent from this chorus of voices were opinions on Turkey’s practical capability to assist. A recent panel discussion at the Turkish Policy Center yielded an interesting perspective on the matter. Dr. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) veteran and economics professor with the University of Maryland, spelled out worrying trends in Turkey’s economy, posing the question: how much can Turkey afford to help?  Continue Reading »

Weekly IHL Update

UntitledMonday, November 17, 2014

In the News

Tension is increasing in Ukraine as reports of Russian troops on the border suggest a possible new offensive, which subsequently increased tension at the G-20 summit in Australia. Russian president, Vladimir Putin, received a lot of criticism for the situation in Ukraine; Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, reportedly shook Putin’s hand while saying “You need to get out of Ukraine,” and Barack Obama called Russian aggression in Ukraine “a threat to the world.” Continue Reading »

Panelists discuss sexual violence during armed conflict held at the American Red Cross in the Board of Governors.

Panelists discuss sexual violence during armed conflict at an event hosted by the American Red Cross.

Sexual violence should not be an inevitable consequence of armed conflict; yet, reports of sexual and gender-based violence (“SGBV”) are rampant in modern conflicts.  In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the UN documented over 3,600 incidents of sexual violence where rape was often used as a weapon during conflict.  Girls who escaped from Boko Haram shared stories of forced marriage and rape. Islamic State (IS or ISIL or ISIS) even published its justification for the sexual slavery, forced marriage, and rape of Yazidi women. Continue Reading »

Participants try out Valiant Hearts and Prisoners of War at the recent event, “Targeting the Laws of War with Video Games.”

** Originally published on Intercross on November 12, 2014.

As a young child, I spent countless hours playing Jane’s AH-64D Longbow, a military simulator that allowed players to fly combat missions in Apache helicopters.  Prior to each mission, players would be briefed on the mission objectives and anticipated enemy forces, coordinate flight paths of allied units, and select the armaments most suitable for their particular mission.  It was through this game that I first became familiar with military tactics and technology. Like countless other millennial gamers, I knew about hellfire missiles long before the emergence of unmanned aerial vehicles made them news-worthy.  Continue Reading »

Weekly IHL Update

Option 1Monday, November 10, 2014

In the News

In the last month, the Allied Democratic Forces (or ADF-NALU, the Allied Democratic Forces and the National Army for the Liberation of Uganda), an armed rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), killed and wounded over a hundred civilians. This past week, the UN mission, MONUSCO, announced that over 200 were arrested in relation to these attacks but conflict continued, prompting Defense Minister Alexandre Luba Ntambo to call on citizens not to form militias for self-defense due to the increased potential for violence.  Continue Reading »

Drone Strikes and IHL

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., May 11, for a training sortie over the Nevada desert. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle takes off from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., May 11, for a training sortie over the Nevada desert. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson)

The use of drones in armed conflict and other situations has increased over the past few years, raising different legal issues. Legal scholars have expressed a variety of opinions on the use of drones, including arguments that support the use of drones as lawful weapons under international law in a time of an armed conflict and arguments that drones are being used in ways that violate international lawContinue Reading »


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