Sunday, 5 August 2012

The legal dilemma over drone strikes: justified killings or war crimes?

Filed under: Disarmament,Human Rights,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 08:00 PDT

Military lawyers can be intimately involved in life-or-death decisions on the use of drone strikes, authorising attacks long before the button is pushed. They often sit alongside ground-based pilots in remote stations – such as Creech US air force base in Nevada – that control drones thousands of miles away.

Their advice can be critical in deciding whether the risk to civilians of launching a missile are proportionate to the aim of the operation. Deploying drones, defence officials acknowledge, raises thorny legal dilemmas.

International legal action has mostly focused on the US programme of targeted killings by drones in Pakistan’s tribal lands, Yemen and Somalia – states where there is no declared war or United Nations-authorised conflict.

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Civil Society Wins the Discursive Victory, Despite Collapse of Arms Trade Treaty Conference

Filed under: Disarmament,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:56 PDT

After a month of procedural wrangling, intense lobbying, heavy campaigning and frantic late night negotiations, the Arms Trade Treaty conference came to a frayed inconclusive end last Friday as skeptical states like China, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba, joined by the United States, called for more time to complete what they saw as an incomplete draft.

While disappointed, activists from the civil society campaign Control Arms believe that by showing up in New York City and engaging in good faith negotiations, the majority of states are beginning to accept the norm stigmatizing the transfer of arms to those who abuse human rights and violate humanitarian law. They are winning the discursive victory, changing the global conversation about the human cost of the market in weapons.

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U.N. monitors’ presence in Syria good for aid delivery: EU

Filed under: Humanitarian work,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:48 PDT

NEW YORK – The presence of U.N. observers in Syria, who have drastically curtailed their monitoring activities due to the escalating violence, continues to have a positive impact on humanitarian aid delivery, the EU crisis chief said on Wednesday…

Some Western diplomats say they are loath to keep the mission in Syria given that there is no truce to monitor. One said there was a good chance the 15-nation council would “pull the plug” on the observers later this month, though it was likely to accept some kind of scaled-down U.N. presence.

But the United Nations has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria and the European Union’s humanitarian affairs commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, said the unarmed monitors’ presence was proving beneficial for aid workers, despite the U.N.’s limited ability to operate.

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The Challenges Of Aid Work In Conflict Zones

Filed under: Humanitarian work,International Law: War — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 07:41 PDT

In Afghanistan and other conflict zones, the military is often first on the ground, followed by diplomats, contractors and journalists. Next, in many cases, are aid workers: People who work for private organizations and strive to remain impartial in some of the world’s most dangerous places.


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