News Archive 2012-2013

    Dapo Akande speaks on the legality of military action in Syria

    Dapo Akande has provided expert comment on the Syrian conflict for a number of news organisations in recent weeks - on his view that use of force in Syria without UN Security Council authorisation was unlikely to be legal. Recent articles include:

    In the Guardian online: 'Syria: legal doubt cast on British government's case for intervention- Experts in international law warn necessary standards have not been met to justify military action on humanitarian grounds'

    Channel 4 news: 'Is UK military action in Syria legal? - the key questions'

    BBC News online: 'Viewpoints: Is there legal basis for military intervention in Syria?'

    ELAC co-hosts ICRC transatlantic workshop 'Symmetries: International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law'

    Last month, the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict and the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations (HRFG) hosted a two day transatlantic workshop with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),"Symmetries: International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law".

    The purpose of this workshop was generate dialogue relating to the applicability of human rights law in time of armed conflict - between academics and government officials, including the military, and also between those working on these issues in the US and the UK.

    Chaired by Dapo Akande, Co-Director of ELAC and HRFG, the workshop was attended by leading academic lawyers, government officials from the UK Foreign Office, US State Department and the US Defence Dept. Attendees also included senior military lawyers (serving and retired) from the UK Army & Navy, US Army, and Canadian Armed forces - including the current chief of international law in the British Army, the current chief of international law in the US army and a former head of the legal division of the Canadian Army. Topics covered in the workshop included the classification of conflicts, targeting the use of force, detention, joint military operations and new military technologies.

    Targeted Killings, Drones and the Right to Life - ELAC co-hosts meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns

    In July, ELAC and the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations (HRFG) hosted a closed expert meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns on the topic of "Targeted Killings, Drones and the Right to Life".

    Dapo Akande with Christof Heyns

    Chaired by Dapo Akande, Co-Director of ELAC and HRFG, the workshop was convened to discuss the legal framework governing the use of drones for targeted killings, the subject of the UN Special Rapporteurs forthcoming report to the United Nations General Assembly. The workshop was attended by over 20 academics, members of civil society and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Also in attendance was Ben Emmerson QC, UN Special Rapporteur on Counterterrorism and Human Rights who will also be submitting a report to the UN General Assembly on accountability for drone strikes.

    The workshop considered the interaction between the right to life to under international human rights law, the principles of international humanitarian law relating to targeting in time of armed conflict, and the right of States to act in self defence against non-State actors under the international law relating to the use of force. Discussion at the workshop was facilitated by a background paper prepared by Dapo Akande, with the assistance of Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne.
    Jennifer Welsh Appointed as United Nations Special Advisor on RtoP

    ELAC is delighted to report that the United Nations have appointed Jennifer Welsh as their new special advisor on the responsibility to protect. This reflects her reputation as a global expert on RtoP, most recently undertaking research at ELAC on operationalising prevention as a key element in the prevention of mass atrocities.

    viser at the Assistant Secretary-General level. She will succeed Edward Luck of the United States, who left the position in June 2012, and to whom the Secretary-General is deeply grateful.

    Ms. Welsh will work under the overall guidance of Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, to further the conceptual, political, institutional and operational development of the responsibility to protect concept, as set out by the General Assembly in paragraphs 138 and 139 of the 2005 World Summit Outcome document.

    Currently Professor of International Relations and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict at the University of Oxford, Ms. Welsh’s research projects include the evolution of the “responsibility to protect” in international society, the ethics of post-conflict reconstruction, the authority of the United Nations Security Council and the notion of sovereignty.

    Ms. Welsh was previously Associate Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Programme at the University of Toronto, Cadieux Research Fellow on the policy planning staff of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Jean Monnet Fellow of the European University Institute. She has also taught international relations at McGill University and at the Central European University, in addition to having published widely on the responsibility to protect and atrocity prevention. She has worked as a consultant to the Government of Canada on international policy and has been a frequent commentator in the Canadian media on foreign policy and international relations.

    Holding a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar, Ms. Welsh also has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

    Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, she is married and has two children.

    The UN news centre story can be read here:

    Dapo Akande appears on BBC2 Newsnight special debate on Syria

    Dapo Akande appeared on a live Newsnight special debate on the Syrian conflict on 9 July, as part of a panel of contributors discussing 'Is it time for us to intervene in the Syrian civil war?' Two conflicting points of view were given by Sir Malcolm Rifkind and John Baron MPs before a discussion chaired by Jeremy Paxman, in which Dapo Akande gave expert opinion on international law, including that arming rebel forces would be unlawful.

    Hugo Slim takes part in Harvard Web Seminar 'Dilemmas of Cross Line and Cross Border Humanitarian Engagement'

    Dr Hugo Slim took part in a Harvard University global webinar panel on 13 June on the humanitarian ethics of cross-border aid into Syria.

    'Access Denied: Dilemmas of Cross Line and Cross Border Humanitarian Engagement'. The growing tension between adherence to international humanitarian law and the practical realities of delivering assistance to vulnerable populations in complex and volatile humanitarian contexts, such as in Syria, represents a significant challenge for the humanitarian community.

    To view the video and background information visit the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) webpage:

    Or click on the link below:

    ICRC 150 year anniversary - Hugo Slim web interview on applying humanitarian principles of impartiality and neutrality

    Dr Hugo Slim takes part in a web interview on humanitarian ethics as part of the 150th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). He speaks on the importance on impartiality, neutrality and respect, and the dilemmas faced by humanitarian agencies in the face of new technologies such as the use of drones and cyberwarfare.

    You see the full interview on the ICRC website here.

    Gilles Giacca co-authors legal briefing on the new United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

    Dr Gilles Giacca (Programme Co-ordinator of the Oxford Martin School Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations and Research Associate, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict) has co-authored a legal briefing on the new United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

    This briefing reviews the text of the Arms Trade Treaty, which was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 2 April 2013 after seven years of discussions and negotiation. It summarizes the process that led to the formal adoption of the text and then comments briefly on the provisions of the treaty in three sections: its title, preamble, and principles, its core provisions, and its final provisions. The project has been supported by the the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

    The Arms Trade Treaty has been signed by 71 states, but it will not entered into force until it has been ratified or acceded to by 50 states.

    Insights on the Arms Trade Treaty legal blog:

    'Principled Humanitarian Action & Ethical Tensions in Multi-Mandate Organizations in Armed Conflict' - policy briefing by Hugo Slim and Miriam Bradley

    The vast majority of agencies working in armed conflict are multi-mandate organizations. This paper explores the ethical tensions that arise when such agencies operate in contexts of armed conflict. It draws on a rapid literature review of academic and policy documents and was commissioned by World Vision as part of its support for a wider research project on humanitarian ethics at ELAC.

    You can download a pdf copy of the briefing here.

    Myanmar’s hopeful if delicate transition to peace - David Rodin blogs from the World Economic Forum on East Asia

    Dr David Rodin reports on 'a political transition that is unlike anything else happening in the world' in Myanmar, from the World Economic Forum on East Asia - noting that while the peace process has has yielded promising results, this is still a 'daunting challenge'.

    You can read the full blog on the World Economic Forum pages here.

    Much Ado About Killer Robots - Alex Leveringhaus blogs on e-IR

    Dr Alex Leveringhaus writes in e-IR on the recent concerns surrounding the potential development of “lethal autonomous robotics" being referred to as "killer robots", commenting on the moral, legal and practical issues, including 'how can one ban something without knowing precisely what one is banning?'

    You can read the full blog on e-International Relations here.

    The 'Letter of Last Resort' - David Rodin discusses the PM's final orders on BBC Radio 4

    Dr David Rodin took part in a panel discussion on 1 June on BBC Radio 4, debating what last orders they would give to the commander of the Trident submarines at sea if the UK was destroyed by a surprise nuclear strike.

    The letters contain orders from beyond the grave. They are written out by every new Prime Minister, within days of entering office, four times - one for each of Britain's four Trident submarines.

    Commodore Tim Hare and Dr Caroline Lucas MP also joined Paddy O'Connell's to discuss whether they should retaliate, or not?

    You can listen to the programme again here.

    David Rodin's letter was as follows:

    The weapon under your comand has one, and only one, function: to secure the United Kingdom by deterring our enemies. The fact that you are reading this means that it has failed. Retaliating now would cause endless suffering for no discernable purpose. I cannot countenance this, and I will not have the final legacy of our great people be the sensless destruction of millions of lives.

    I know that the desire for revenge must be strong - you would not be human if you did not feel this. But reflect on the meaning of retribution. The civillians whose lives you would destroy – the teachers, parents and postmen - were not the ones responsible for the attack on Britain. To seek revenge on the guilty by attacking the innocent is not just iniqitous; it is inchoherent.

    You are therefore ordered to render your warheads unusable by jettisoning them into the sea. Let this final act of heroic restraint be the testament of a people who,even in their final and most desperate hour, did not abandon their humanity.

    Alex Leveringhaus on Lethal Autonomous Robotics in Dutch newspaper Trouw

    Dr Alex Leveringhaus comments in an article for a Dutch newspaper on the potential evolution of military robotics, following the recent calls by global moratorium on the development and deployment of lethal autonomous robots (LARs).

    Read the full article here

    Debating China’s North Korea policy - Nicola Horsburgh blogs on this crucial relationship

    Following North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test in February this year, much attention has been paid to debates within China over its troublesome neighbour, with some suggesting severing ties to the North altogether. Do these discussions reflect a fundamental shift underway in China’s North Korea policy? Not necessarily.

    Read the full blog piece in Politics in Spires here.

    'Robots don’t kill people, it’s the humans we should worry about' - ELAC Research Associate Sir Mike Aaronson writes on lethal autonomous robotics

    Sir Mike Aaronson comments on The Conversation website following the report to the UN’s Human Rights Council by UN Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns on “lethal autonomous robotics".

    Read the full article atThe Conversation here.

    'Killer' Military Robots - Alex Leveringhaus interviewed on BBC's Newsnight

    Dr Alex Leveringhaus participated in a studio discussion on Lethal Autonomous Robotics on the BBC Newsnight programme on 30 May, following their piece on futuristic weaponry, and calls for a moratorium or international treaty to ban them before they are developed further.

    Court between A Rock and a Hard Place: Dapo Akande blogs on the referral of Israel’s Raid on Gaza Flotilla to the ICC

    Dapo Akande blogs on EJIL Talk! following the referral to the ICC of the action of Israeli troops in boarding the flotilla headed to Gaza on 31 May 2010. This action was taken by Comoros, the state where the main vessel on which the Israeli actions took place (the Mavi Marmara) was registered - and has many significant political and institutional aspects. Dapo Akande considers that 'the ICC Prosecutor can expect a measure of disapproval whichever way she turns on this issue'.

    You can read the full blog here.

    BBC Radio 3 Night Waves - David Rodin on 'Future Warfare

    Dr David Rodin was a panellist on the BBC Radio 3 programme Night Waves in May 2013. This special edition examined the state of warfare in the modern world and was hosted by Anne McElvoy.

    The 20th Century saw several different ways in which a war could be fought, from evenly matched armies confronting each other on a battle field, to the aerial mass bombing of cities in order to terrorise citizens and stop industry, to the threat of mutually assured destruction in a nuclear war.

    Today, Western nations find themselves in a very different kind of conflict, pitted not against enemy nations, but against disparate networks of 'terrorists' based in remote areas of apparently friendly countries. The technology of war has changed too: unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, allow their owners to fight without putting themselves in danger. And our increasing reliance on the internet raises the spectre cyber warfare.

    Do these developments mean we've entered a new era for warfare? What do they mean for the ethics of conflict in the modern world?

    You can listen again to this broadcast at:

    Stepping Up the Pace of Ratifications of the ICC Amendments on the Crime of Aggression : Dapo Akande blogs on the unresolved questions

    Dapo Akande writes in his EJIL Talk! blog on progress following the adoption by the Assembly of States Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2010 of amendments to the ICC Statute which define the crime of aggression and provide for the jurisdiction of the ICC over aggression. He reports that 'although the pace of ratifications is increasing, there are still a number of questions about the operation of the crime of aggression that remain unresolved'.

    You can read the full blog here.

    Papers from the 3rd ELAC Annual Workshop published as symposium in the Leiden Journal of International Law

    Conference papers from the 3rd ELAC Annual Workshop in September 2011 on 'Law and Ethics in War' have been published in a symposium issue of the Leiden Journal of International Law (Volume 26 - Issue 02 - June 2013).

    The papers include David Luban on 'Military Necessity and the Cultures of Military Law' and 'Should International Law Ensure the Moral Acceptability of War?' by Janina Dill.

    You can read the full issue at this link:

    In Syria, the U.S. ‘red line’ continues to shift - Jennifer Welsh writes on the ongoing conflict

    Jennifer Welsh comments on in the Canadian Globe and Mail on the Syrian conflict, contrasting the recent Israeli air strikes with the US lack of action, despite the suspected use of chemical weapons that President Obama had previously stated would 'cross a “red line” and change his decision-making calculus'. Professor Welsh notes that ' powerful as the humanitarian rationale for action may be, it is very rarely the determinant for Western action'. You can read the full article here.

    Hugo Slim interviewed on humanitarian action in Syria on IPI Global Observatory

    Hugo Slim discusses the ethics of humanitarian action, including impartiality and the rights of individuals in an interview with Jérémie Labbé, Senior Policy Analyst, International Peace Institute (IPI). You can read and listen to the full interview on the IPI Global Observatory website here.

    Kenya’s Hopes for Justice in the Hands of the Accused - Serena Sharma on the contested Presidential elections

    Today the Kenyan Supreme Court faced its most critical challenge to date, as it delivered its verdict on the petition contesting the results of the presidential election held on 4 March. In its landmark decision, the judicial body upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory as declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on 9 March. While the verdict was certainly disappointing for Raila Odinga and his supporters, the decision to contest the election through the Courts and – most crucially of all – accept its verdict, is a powerful vote of confidence in Kenya’s reformed judiciary. Odinga’s decision to contest the election through the Courts stands in sharp contrast to the disputed election of 2007-08. Five years ago, lack of faith in Kenya’s judiciary meant that challenges to the poll results played out in the streets, leading to widespread violence that swept across the country. With nearly 1300 killed and hundreds of thousands displaced, the 2007-08 post-election violence amounted to Kenya’s worst political crisis since independence.

    In so many ways, the 4 March elections in Kenya can be viewed as a concerted attempt to disassociate from the experience of 2007-08. In the lead up to the polls, messages of peace flooded the airwaves and television stations across the country. On 24 February, the presidential candidates attended a peace prayer at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park in a show of solidarity, which would have been unthinkable five years ago. Moreover, as part of a broader effort to deter incidences of hate speech and incitement, which were rampant in 2007-08, civil society groups embarked on media monitoring campaigns. On Election Day itself, the national newspapers, the Daily Nation and Standard, ran the headlines ‘Never Again’ and ‘Let Peace Prevail’ respectively. In the anxious days between voting and the IEBC’s announcement, there were countless calls for calm. These appeals for peace continued as the Supreme Court deliberated on the results.

    In spite of the efforts to consciously break with the past, the shadow of 2007-08 was unmistakably present in this election. The candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, both facing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in the 2007-08 violence, served as a grim reminder that justice has not been prioritised in Kenya’s broader reform effort. Multiple attempts to establish a local tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of the post-election violence have failed, prompting the involvement of the ICC as a last resort. Although the ICC can only prosecute a handful of perpetrators, it is unlikely – even with the newfound faith in Kenya’s judiciary – that proposals for a domestic mechanism will be resurrected any time soon. Consequently, the ICC remains Kenya’s best hope for delivering justice.

    It is difficult to deny the sobering effect the ICC has had in a country where impunity has been endemic. At the same time, there have been a number of unintended consequences associated with the ICC’s involvement in Kenya. Among the most crucial is the alliance between Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, which appeared to materialise as a direct response to the ICC. While it is perhaps still too early to assess the overall impact of the ICC in Kenya, much will depend on how effectively the Court is able to carry out its work. Recently, the case of Francis Muthaura, a co-accused of Kenyatta, collapsed after evidence from a key witness had been compromised. In view of the continuing difficulties surrounding witnesses, ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda has referred to the Kenyan cases as the most challenging the ICC has ever faced.

    While some view the involvement of the ICC as an unwelcome infringement on Kenya’s sovereignty, the fate of Muthaura’s case serves as a reminder of how much the Court relies on cooperation in order to function, not only of the accused, but also of the Kenyan Government. As a consequence of today’s Supreme Court decision, the two are now officially one and the same. In this respect, the final opportunity for delivering justice in Kenya, rather ironically, resides with those who have been deemed to be bear the greatest responsibility for the 2007-08 violence.

    The tensions that have now become apparent in Kenya’s ICC cases are also reflected in the Kenyan National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) – the African Union-sponsored mediation process, which has been credited with halting the violence in 2007-08. Although the mediation in Kenya has been deemed successful, progress on addressing some the structural factors underlying the violence, which were identified as part of this process, have been painfully slow. The countless difficulties facing Kenya’s Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), created as part of the KNDR process to investigate gross human rights violations and historical injustices, is a testament to this fact. Given the extent to which the mediation process further entrenched Kenya’s political elite, the state of the TJRC is not particularly surprising. The key question now is whether efforts to address impunity through the Court of last resort will encounter a similar fate.

    ELAC Contibutes to new RUSI Whitehall Report, 'Hitting the Target?' on deploying dones

    ELAC's Dr Alexander Leveringhaus and his co-researcher Tjerk de Greef (Delft) have contibuted to the new RUSI Whitehall Report: 'Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities Are Shaping International Intervention'.

    The report considers the use of advanced technological capabilities in modern conflict, and whether ethical, legal, and policy frameworks have kept up with the pace of technological change. Dr Leveringhaus and Dr de Greef specifically examine the challenges of deploying tele-operated (remote-controlled) unmanned aerial vehciles (drones) during humanitarian intervention (see also ELAC's current reseach project 'Military Enhancement: Design for Responsibility and Combat Systems').

    The report, produced by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in association with cii (Centre for International Intervention, University of Surrey) will be launched in London on 26 March. See the event details here.

    Unfinished business? The final diplomatic conference on the Arms Trade Treaty resumed

    Dr Gilles Giacca (Programme Co-ordinator of the Oxford Martin School Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations) is closely following the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in New York.

    The renewed UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty opened on 18 March 2013 for a total of nine days. Optimism is running high that despite the very short time frame, and the unseemly collapse of negotiations in July 2012, an agreement can be secured this time around. There is currently no international instrument that regulates the conventional arms trade. A multilateral treaty of global scope would close the gaps and inconsistencies that exist between the current range of domestic and regional arms export control systems. It remains to be seen whether further efforts in the next two weeks will reach consensus within the UN or if certain States may later decide to conduct negotiations outside the United Nations, in a similar way to which the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions were elaborated.

    Insights and daily updates on the Arms Trade Treaty legal blog:

    The Oxford Martin School Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations and ELAC share a Co-Director (Dapo Akande) and are planning several joint events in the upcoming months. Please see the ELAC events pages for further information.

    Amos Guiora Writes on Targeted Killing

    ELAC Research Associate Professor Amos N. Guiora writes on the controversial subject of targeted killing in several recent pieces.

    In the Jurist online forum on targeted killing, and the danger of tragic mistakes that come from making decisions in 'a "closed world" devoid of oversight and review'. He calls instead for a form of judicial review, and 'a drone policy predicated on the rule of law and morality rather than the deeply troubling paradigm established by the Obama administration in the DOJ white paper'. Read the full article here.

    Professor Giora has also produced a working paper: 'Targeted Killing: When Proportionality Gets All Out of Proportion' which explores this in more detail. Read the full article here.

    You can also read Professor Giora quoted in The Guardian online on US drones policy here: 'Democrats' silence on drones leaves right in unlikely alliance with activists' .

    'North Korea’s third nuclear test – what’s different this time round?'
    Dr Nicola Horsburgh writes for the Poltitcs in Spires blog on the implications of the recent North Korean nuclear weapons test, which appeared to be of a greater magnitude then in previous years, using a nucler material in more plentiful supply. While the Chinese and US response is still unfolding, she notes that 'the stakes, both technical and political, are higher this time round'.

    You can read the full article here.

    'Legitimate Target: A Criteria-Based Approach to Targeted Killing'
    ELAC Research Associate Professor Amos N. Guiora has recently published a new book -'Legitimate Target: A Criteria-Based Approach to Targeted Killing' (OUP 2013)

    In this, Professor Guiora proposes that targeted killing decisions must reflect consideration of four distinct elements: law, policy, morality, and operational details, thus ensuring that it complies with principles of domestic and international laws. The author, writing from both personal experience and an academic perspective, offers important criticism and insight into the policy as presently implemented, highlighting the need for a criteria based decision making process in defining and identifying a legitimate target.

    Download the OUP flyer here.

    'Targeted Killing on Trial' - Jennifer Welsh blogs on drones and accountability

    As part of an ongoing series on the use of drones, Jennifer Welsh blogs in the Canadian International Council Roundtable on calls for greater transparency and accountability with respect to targeted killing, especially by the US Obama administration.

    You can read the full article here.

    'When Regional Solutions Fail' - Jennifer Welsh on French intervention in Mali

    Jennifer Welsh comments on the Roundtable blog following the recent French intervention in the conflict in Mali. On the failure of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deploy in time to prevent an esclation of violence she notes that "...while regional organizations are often touted as the legitimate and preferred actors in crises such as Mali, they cannot always fulfill their mandate. Capacity and politics can get in the way".

    You can read the full article here.

    Hugo Slim blogs on the ethics of humanitarian aid following the BBC4 documentary 'The Trouble with Aid'

    Hugo Slim blogs following the BBC 4 screening of the documentary “The Trouble With Aid”, an analysis of humanitarian aid in war and disasters followed by a studio debate, but considers that the film was 'skewed and incomplete' - and while the moral decisions are complex, 'that humanitarian agencies can make even a small difference to people's lives in these protracted wars needs to be recognised and celebrated'.

    You can read the full pieces in The Guardian and AlertNet here:

    Helping people is always complicated in families, welfare and in war

    The Debating Chamber - “The Trouble With Aid” shows the trouble with documentaries

    You can view the BBC4 programme again here.

    Amos Guiora comments on the targeting of "children with potential hostile intent" in Afghanistan

    ELAC Research Associate Professor Amos Guiora comments in The Guardian on the moral questions surrounding decisions over legitimate military targets, decribing the recent statement by a senior US army official that they were looking out for "children with potential hostile intent" as "...beyond troubling. It is also illegal and immoral."

    You can read the full article here: 'US military facing fresh questions over targeting of children in Afghanistan'

    Self Determination and the Syrian Conflict - Dapo Akande on the UK Recognition of Opposition Forces

    Dapo Akande writes in his blog on EJIL: Talk! on the political and legal implications of the UK's recent decision to recognise the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (NCS) as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people". Comparing this with reaction to previous national liberation movements fighting against colonial or racist regimes, he discusses whether the Syrian conflict is one where the political process has failed to allow for internal self-determination, and what this means for intervention by the international community.

    You can read the full article here.

    Jennifer Welsh blogs on The ‘Wicked Problem’ in Syria - Why there aren’t any good options for those on the outside

    In a piece for her OpenCanada blog, Jennifer Welsh discusses the failure of the international community to help to end the conflict in Syria, pointing out that 'we are 20 months into the Syrian crisis, with little sign of how it will be resolved'. She questions whether the best stragety may be '... to recognize that Syria represents what some social theorists call a ‘wicked problem’: one that is resistant to resolution'.

    You can read the full article here.

    Palestine as a UN Observer State: Does this Make Palestine a State? Dapo Akande blogs on EJIL: Talk!

    Dapo Akande blogs on the legal implications of the decision by the UN General Assembly “to accord to Palestine non-member observer State status in the United Nations”, an '...act of collective recognition of the statehood of Palestine'.

    You can read the full article here.

    'What is the United Nations For?' - Research Associate Prof Sir Michael Aaronson blogs on UN failures during the Sri Lankan civil war
    In a recent article for e-international relations, Sir Michael Aaronson comments on the recent UN internal report on the handling of the Sri Lankan civil war which ended in 2009 - which points at serious failings in both the UN Secretariat and amongst UN Member States- and discusses the implications for the role of the United Nations in international intervention and the concept of the responsibility to protect. You can read the full article here.

    Sir Michael Aaronson is Director of cii – the Centre for International Intervention – at the University of Surrey, and a Research Associate of ELAC.

    Hugo Slim appointed as member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Conflict Prevention
    Dr Hugo Slim has recently been appointed a member of the Global Agenda Council on Conflict Prevention.

    In 2008, the World Economic Forum created the Network of Global Agenda Councils, on the foremost topics in the global arena. Each of these Councils convenes relevant thought leaders from academia, government, business and other fields to capture the best knowledge on each key issue and integrate it into global collaboration and decision-making processes.

    The Council on Conflict Prevention is committed to fostering business and peacebuilding collaboration, fuelling new and more effective peacebuilding alliances.

    You can read more on the World Economic Forum website here

    David Rodin on 'Morality and Ethics in the Gaza Conflict ' BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze

    Dr David Rodin appeared on the BBC Radio 4 programme The Moral Maze' on 21 November 2012, discussing the recent escalation of violence in Gaza.

    'Both sides in the current conflict in Gaza have been claiming the moral high ground. To the Israelis it's an issue of self-defence and they're trying to avoid casualties. To Hamas it's about responding to the oppression and aggression of a much more powerful neighbour. The world looks on, counting the bodies and is almost inevitably drawn to the graphic simplicities of competing victimhood. The Palestinians win that hands down, but, terrible though it is, there's more to morality than suffering. What if, as the Israeli writer Amos Oz says, they're both right? Should we substitute pragmatism for morality? Stop trying to weigh up competing moral claims in the interests of some sort of solution. Or is giving up the idea of right and wrong, relativism of the worst kind, that could lead to a different kind of moral tragedy? Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Michael Portillo, Anne McElvoy, Matthew Taylor and Claire Fox'.

    Witnesses: Professor Daniel Statman - Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa, Dr David Rodin - Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford, Dr Philip Cunliffe - Lecturer in International Conflict, University of Kent.

    You listen to this programme on iPlayer radio here: The Moral Maze

    Humanitarian Intervention and R2P - Jennifer Welsh describes the importance of ELAC's research in a new 'Oxford Impacts' video

    Jennifer Welsh highlights her recent research on the responsibility to protect (R2P) and prevention in a new video webcast for the University of Oxford. She describes this innovative approach and its global importance and impact.

    You can view the video from this page: Oxford Impacts videos

    The 'Oxford Impacts' video series celebrates the ways that Oxford University benefits the world of policy, health, business and culture.

    Read more about ELAC's research on prevention and R2P here.


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