Tag Archives: Syria

Finding the LOAC in Syria: 2 reports from the IRIN on the Syrian Rebels and IHL (LOAC)

by Jessica Poarch

Last July the ICRC ruled that Syria was in a civil war bringing the conflict under the LOAC.* On 13 May, IRIN, a humanitarian news source sponsored by the UN, published two stories looking at how the Syrian rebels view the Laws of War. The first story, “Syrian rebels on IHL: In their own words,” is a collection of statements by different sections of the rebel fighters on their views on the rules applicable to the conflict. The statements are a telling collection of varying views that clearly exhibit the lack of uniformity in leadership and mission of the rebel fighters. The opinions range from that of a former Colonel of the Syrian Army now commanding a unit of the Free Syrian Army who has been educated on the principles of LOAC and feels that respecting the law is what separates the rebels from the Syrian government to a member of an Islamist group who only subscribes to the Shariah and fain no respect for international laws such as the LOAC.

The second story, “Sometimes you cannot apply the rules – Syrian rebels and IHL” is an analysis of the statements made by the rebels in the larger context of the rules governing the rebel fighters. This article uses the statements of the fighters regarding their views of the LOAC to show which sources of IHL rules they (the rebels) respect–International Law, in some cases, but mostly Islamic law. The article then goes on to explain the systemic issues faced by the rebel leaders in getting their troops to adhere to the rules.

The general conclusion that can be gleaned from these two articles is that there is no clear, agreed upon set of rules being followed by the rebel forces. Although there are groups who are attempting to educate fighters on the Laws of War, the lack of unified leadership is making the success of the process slow.

* For more detail see my July 18, 2012 post, HERE.

Red Cross Rules Syria is in Civil War

by Jessica Poarch

The following excerpt/quote is from an article that appeared in the TheGuardian.com on July 15, 2012 titled: Bashar al-Assad cold face prosecution as Red Cross rules Syria is in civil war – Declaration signals that Geneva-based organisation regards all civilians and detainees as protected under international law

“The ICRC ruling marks a significant moment in the Syrian uprising, which during the past year has changed from a series of anti-regime protests into a full-blown insurrection. It had previously said that localised states of civil war existed in Homs, Hama and Idlib. The ICRC is considered to be a guardian of the Geneva convention, which prescribes the rules of warfare. The declaration signals that the Geneva-based organisation regards all civilians and detainees as protected under international law.

Alexis Heeb, an ICRC spokesman in Geneva, said: “Now there are many places in Syria that fulfil requirements to be a called a non-international armed conflict, and the situation is fluid and constantly evolving.

‘What matters is that humanitarian law applies across the country, and that means civilians and those no longer taking part in the conflict are protected.’

Read the full story HERE  [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jul/15/syria-civil-war-red-cross?cid=nlc-dailybrief-daily_news_brief-link4-20120716]

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