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Ceasefire holds their first fundraising concert in Islington on 4 November with Ukrainian concert pianist Sasha Grynyuk  

Ceasefire are set to host their first fundraising concert in support of their work to empower civilians caught in conflict zones, including Ukraine, and the Middle East and North Africa.

The concert will be held on Friday 4 November 7.30pm in the beautiful venue of St James Church in Islington, London. Internationally acclaimed Ukrainian concert pianist, Sasha Grynyuk, and the Morello Quartet, are set to perform a uniquely themed programme centering around several composers of significance in relation to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Find out the full programme here.

Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sasha Grynyuk has been described by legendary Charles Rosen as “an impressive artist with remarkable, unfailing musicality always moving with the most natural, electrifying, and satisfying interpretations”. Winner of over ten International competitions, prizes and awards, Sasha was chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ for BBC Music Magazine and International Piano Magazine, as well as First Prizes in the Grieg International Piano Competition and the BNDES International Piano Competition.

He has performed around the world in many major venues including Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Bridgewater Hall (Manchester), Wiener Konzerthaus, Weil Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall, New York), Teatro Real (Rio de Janeiro) and Salle Cortot (Paris). He has performed with such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica Brasiliera and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. You can visit Sasha’s website here.

The Morello Quartet was formed by four good friends and graduates of The Royal Academy of Music in 2019 – Anna Caban (violin), Ana Popescu-Deutsch (violin), Kesari Pundarika (viola), and Anil Umer (cello). Their inaugural concert was part of St. James’ Concert series in Paddington in March the following year. Since then, they’ve performed as part of ‘Enescu and Friends’ concert series at the Romanian Cultural Institute in London, at the Shipwright Festival in Deptford, the Artisti con Brio series at the Candid Arts Trust and in many places around the UK. Recent engagements include a cross-sensory concert at the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall where a three-course meal themed on the programme was served alongside the performance. The group is passionate about performing varied and diverse programmes combining classical, folk-inspired, and contemporary music. Listen to the quartet on their website here.

Tickets are available on the door or online. Prices are £20 General Admission, £10 for Under 25s/Unemployed and Free for Under 15s. Group discounts of 5+ are also available by emailing the Ceasefire Fundraising Team on fundraising@ceasefire.org

There will also be a raffle with many fantastic prizes up for grabs, a short talk by a member of our charity, and plenty of wine and nibbles to enjoy for a small donation. Raffle prizes include a Luxury Food Hamper and £50 voucher from The Cheese Geeks.

To find out the full event details, and buy tickets click here.

Can‘t make the concert but still want to support us? Visit our JustGiving Fundraising Concert Page by clicking here

SianCeasefire holds their first fundraising concert in Islington on 4 November with Ukrainian concert pianist Sasha Grynyuk  
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Reparations for Ukraine: An international route map

June 2022

To bring justice to Ukraine’s civilians and enable them to rebuild their lives will require reparations. But while firm progress has been made on instituting war crimes investigations following the Russian invasion, international planning for the delivery of reparations has lagged behind, finds a major new report by Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights.

Reparations for Ukraine: An international route map considers the international legal authority for grounding reparations and what form they should take.  It then maps out the mechanisms that could be entrusted to take on the task of awarding and administering reparations on the scale required – and how Russia could be made to contribute.  In the light of international precedents and what has worked in other conflict and post-conflict situations, the report proposes a number of principles which should guide the process.

‘Civilians in Ukraine have suffered the full force of Russia’s invasion, but the experience of other conflicts shows us just how easily civilians can be forgotten by the international community when it comes to reconstruction and stabilization’, said Mark Lattimer, Ceasefire’s Executive Director. ‘Members of the EU, the G7 and the UN General Assembly have both the power and access to the resources to deliver reparations for civilians. What are they waiting for?’

Ukrainian civil society organisations have long called for the implementation of an effective compensation mechanism for the victims of war and occupation. Given the extensive preparatory work which needs to be done, civilians who have suffered harm cannot afford to wait for a resolution to the conflict. In order to establish an effective reparations process for Ukraine, it is imperative that the international community avoids further delay.

Notes for editors:

Ceasefire works to support reparations and accountability for violations of civilian rights in the Middle East, Africa and other world regions, and maintains a legal help desk in Mosul, Iraq, supporting claims for conflict-related civilian harm.

Other Ceasefire reports on the issue of reparations include:

Reparations for civilian harm from military operations: Towards a UK policy

Mosul after the Battle: Reparations and the future of Ninewa

Reparations for the Victims of Conflict in Iraq: Lessons learned from comparative practice

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Ceasefire joins ten civil society groups in calling on the UK to urgently address civilian harm policies

On Protection of Civilians Week, Ceasefire joins eleven civil society organisations request to meet the UK Secretary of State for Defence to discuss improvements on the way the UK mitigates, accounts and investigates instances of civilian harm.

As the United States announces a review of its approach to how it protects civilians in warfare there is an urgent need for the United Kingdom to conduct its own review, a coalition of civil society organisations specialised in the subject said on Friday, the final day of the UN Protection of Civilians Week from May 23rd to May 27th 2022.

After devastating revelations published in The New York Times late last year revealed critical failures by the US-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) in the prevention of civilian harm in Iraq and Syria, the Biden administration has launched a review to improve policies on data collection, reporting and acknowledgement of civilian harm, improvements which aim to overhaul processes and create a Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMRAP), as well as a civilian protection ‘center of excellence’.

These revelations add to the strong evidence base of civilian harm from CJTF-OIR operations built up by researchers, humanitarian agencies, and international organisations over the years.

Developments in the US have substantial implications for the UK’s own approach to civilian harm, as the UK played an important role in CJTF-OIR. The UK must now engage with civil society on these issues and implement urgent reforms.

The use of explosive weapons, with wide area effects, in urban areas continues to be a cause of immense human suffering – with nine out of ten casualties being civilians.

Please find the full letter here and below:

Dear Secretary of State, 

RE: Protection of Civilians Week – time to address UK policy on civilian harm mitigation, transparency, and oversight  

On the occasion of UN Protection of Civilians Week, the undersigned civil society organisations are writing to you to request a meeting and develop a constructive dialogue with you to discuss the UK’s policy on civilian harm mitigation, transparency and oversight. As some of our closest allies have begun to reform their approach to civilian harm in military operations, we believe there is an urgent need for the UK to learn from developing practice on this issue.  

Revelations published in the New York Times in 2021 about critical failures by Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) to prevent, respond to, and be held accountable for civilian harm caused in Iraq and Syria add to the strong evidence base of civilian harm from CJTF-OIR operations built up by researchers, humanitarian agencies, and international organisations over the years. This public disquiet partly spurred, as you will know, the US Secretary of State of Defense to direct the DoD to improve policies on data collection, reporting and acknowledgement of civilian harm, improvements which aim to overhaul processes and create a Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan (CHMRAP), as well as a civilian protection ‘center of excellence.’

Given the important role of UK forces in combined operations as part of CJTF-OIR, these developments clearly have substantial implications for the UK’s own approach to civilian harm. 

All states participating in CJTF-OIR, including the US and UK, should ensure that all instances of reported civilian harm are investigated and accounted for. We urge for constructive dialogue around the hundreds of civilian-harm claims from local communities that indicate that large-scale civilian harm occurred as a direct result of  CJTF-OIR operations. 

We believe that the UK for its part has an opportunity to be a global leader on civilian protection issues. We would like to discuss the following with you:

  • Engagement with civil society on these issues and involvement of  civil society in implementing improvements
  • Implications from the reviews of US practice and the CHMRAP for the UK’s own approach to civilian harm mitigation and response
  •  How the UK could contribute to developing the knowledge base on civilian harm mitigation and response
  • How civilian protection concerns are included in UK support for partner forces, lessons learnt from civilian harm incidents and standards set for best practice.
  • How the UK can play a leading role in ensuring historic instances of civilian harm allegations resulting from CJTF-OIR actions are properly accounted for.
  • How the UK can lead the strengthening of NATO’s Protection of Civilian preparedness. 

Thank you for your consideration. 

Yours sincerely, 

Action On Armed Violence, Airwars, Amnesty International UK, Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights, Crisis Action, Every Casualty Counts, Iraq Body Count, Reprieve, Save the Children, War Child 

For comment, please contact Ceasefire’s Advocacy Officer, Lydia Day (lydia.day@ceasefire.org). 

ceasefireCeasefire joins ten civil society groups in calling on the UK to urgently address civilian harm policies
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The protection of civilians and siege warfare: CEASEFIRE and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK host event

From Mariupol and other cities in Ukraine, to Mosul, Aleppo and other cities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Philippines, the global resurgence of siege warfare and its devastating impact on civilian populations have raised serious questions about the implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and military strategy and operational practice.

Such questions were considered at an event at the Swiss Ambassador’s residence in London on 31st March to launch CEASEFIRE’s latest report, Protecting civilians in siege warfare: Constraints on military action. Academics, lawyers, civil servants, parliamentarians, military officials and civil society members gathered to engage with a panel discussion on the protection of civilians and siege warfare.

The Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner introduced the panel discussion, referring to Switzerland’s long-standing tradition of protecting civilians in armed conflict and emphasising the importance of the conversation. He underlined the priority of the protection of civilians in Swiss foreign policy and the value of cooperation with like-minded countries such as the UK. Opening remarks were also given by Ambassador Corinne Cicéron Bühler, Director of the Directorate of International Law at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, on the role of IHL in regulating siege warfare, and how Switzerland is working in multilateral forums to strengthen IHL and compliance with it.

The panel discussion, which was conducted under the Chatham House Rule, was chaired by CEASEFIRE’s Executive Director, Mark Lattimer, and the speakers included:

  • Radhya Al-Mutawakel, Chairperson of Mwatana Organisation for Human Rights
  • Helen Alderson, ICRC Representative to the UK & Ireland
  • Brigadier Keith Eble, Head of Operational Law at the British Army
  • Professor Noam Lubell, Director of the Armed Conflict and Crisis Hub, University of Essex.

Participants agreed that while siege warfare is often referred to as ‘medieval’, this description was deeply inaccurate given how widespread such tactics are in contemporary urban warfare, and the extent to which modern technologies and equipment have changed the nature of siege warfare.

Several panellists and audience members spoke about the devastating consequences of siege warfare for civilian populations, including casualties from bombardment, food and water scarcity, and psychological consequences. It was crucial that discussions were grounded in the realities of civilians’ lives under siege.

A significant point of discussion was about whether existing IHL was sufficient for mitigating civilian harm from siege warfare, and if so, whether the focus should be on increasing compliance with IHL. Some commented that it was better to improve compliance with IHL in siege warfare through increased training, funding, and accountability for potential violations. Others noted that these approaches were not mutually exclusive, and that we should seek to expand IHL where necessary while also strengthening compliance to existing IHL.

There was also an ongoing conversation about what accountability means in the context of siege tactics and urban warfare. Participants examined criminal and state accountability for violations of IHL during sieges, and what avenue may be most appropriate for this kind of warfare.

Read CEASEFIRE’s latest report on siege warfare here.

ceasefireThe protection of civilians and siege warfare: CEASEFIRE and the Embassy of Switzerland in the UK host event
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CEASEFIRE addresses key Geneva talks on explosive weapons use in populated areas

CEASEFIRE participated in talks with delegates from over 65 countries at the Palais des Nations in Geneva in April focused on a political declaration on restricting the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA).

Delegates from governments and civil society met for three days of discussions on the wording of the political declaration, with the news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent heavy bombardment of densely populated civilian neighbourhoods ever present. Civil society organisations reminded the conference that similar weapons and tactics had been used in many places in recent years, including Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Ethiopia, and Gaza.

Prior to the conference, CEASEFIRE published new research on siege warfare which examined the limits imposed by international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law on the conduct of sieges, and the role of the UK and other governments, armed forces, NATO, the UN, humanitarian actors and the civilian population itself in avoiding or minimising civilian harm.

What does EWIPA refer to?

Explosive weapons in populated area (EWIPA) refers to the use of a broad range of types of weapon that encompasses mines, rockets, air-dropped bombs, shells and IEDs. While many of these weapons have been used by militaries and non-state armed groups for decades, as warfare has moved from the battlefield to urban, populated environments, the risk to civilians has significantly increased.

Indeed, research by Action on Armed Violence has found that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, over 90% of casualties are civilians.

What is the political declaration on EWIPA?

In 2019, Austria hosted the international Vienna Conference on Protecting Civilians in Urban Warfare. At the end of this conference, Ireland agreed to host a series of consultations aimed at developing a political declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

While this is not a United Nations process, the EWIPA proceedings have been strongly backed by the UN, with the Secretary General calling on states to adopt a strong protocol. CEASEFIRE had previously attended talks held in Geneva in November 2019.  Following on from the latest round of talks, Ireland will reflect on proposed changes to the draft text ahead of a final one-day consultation in early June.

What was discussed during these talks?

Following the declaration’s preamble, which describes the harm caused by EWIPA, the operative part focuses on the mechanisms, commitments and policies which will improve civilian protection.

Interventions given by states and civil society focused on whether the language used should be strengthened or softened. For example, a key discussion revolved around the wording of section 3.3:

Ensure that our armed forces adopt and implement a range of policies and practices to avoid civilian harm, including by restricting or refraining from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, when the effects may be expected to extend beyond a military objective, in accordance with International Humanitarian Law.

Delegations from the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as CEASEFIRE, believe that this statement should be strengthened to include a clear presumption against the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area in populated areas. This agrees with the UN Secretary General that the text should be ‘to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas’ rather than ‘restricting or refraining’ their use, which is a weaker commitment.

While some countries, such as Israel, the US, UK and Canada, stated that they could not support the draft declaration in its current form due to its strong language and their active militaries, many felt this round of discussions had been more hopeful than previous iterations. The Chair, Ambassador Michael Gaffey, noted at the end of the discussions that while “There are clearly differences of opinion, we have seen a very positive, solution-oriented approach.”

What was CEASEFIRE’s contribution?

CEASEFIRE’s Advocacy Officer, Lydia Day, spoke on the importance of investigating and tracking civilian casualties and data collection on civilian harm:

CEASEFIRE Centre for Civilian Rights believes that the current draft of the political declaration should be strengthened regarding both investigating and tracking civilian casualties and data collection on civilian harm.

While paragraph 4.2 is the most important section of the declaration operationally for data collection and tracking civilian casualties, we believe it is important that calls for a transparent, accountable, and strong approach to these issues run throughout the declaration. We have therefore collated our comments regarding this issue in this intervention.

CEASEFIRE welcomes the acknowledgement of the importance of tracking civilian casualties in military operations in the preamble in section 1.6.

However, we are concerned by the declaration’s lack of a corresponding commitment to this in section 3. We join with groups such as INEW in calling for this to be clarified in section 3. States should commit to investigating and tracking civilian harm in real time, including both casualties and harm to civilian objects. This would promote respect for the right of families to know the fate of their relatives, to enable states to better understand civilian harm and to shape operational approaches and policy regarding protection of civilians.

As detailed in a new report on protecting civilians in siege warfare published by CEASEFIRE last week, civilians in populated areas under attack will often be driven underground. Where there is a failure to investigate, civilian casualties may go unacknowledged and unrecorded.

CEASEFIRE is also concerned with section 4, specifically 4.2, regarding data collection and civilian harm. While we welcome the commitment to “collect, share and make publicly available disaggregated data, on the direct and reverberating effects on civilians”, we have four main recommendations on data collection.

Firstly, paragraph 4.2 retains the qualifier “where feasible and appropriate”. This caveat should be removed to reflect the strong imperative on states to collect data on civilian harm from explosive weapons.

Secondly, 4.2 should also clarify the type of data that should be included, including data on weapons types, incident locations, the circumstances under which weapons have been used, and information on explosive remnants of war. This would help monitor the differing impacts of explosive weapons and help improve civilian protection mechanisms.

Thirdly, the scope of the data collected needs to be expanded to include civilian objects, such as civilian property and infrastructure. Damage to civilian objects is a significant part of the reverberating effects of explosive weapons and should therefore be explicitly included.

Finally, civilians on the ground provide an essential source of data that requires to be taken into account. The declaration should acknowledge the important contribution of local civil society sources to data collection on civilian harm.

CEASEFIRE believes that these recommendations of committing to real-time investigation and tracking of civilian harm, expanding the scope of the data collected on civilian harm, and increasing data transparency would operationally strengthen the declaration. This would help promote compliance with international law and improve the protection of civilians.

The issues mentioned by CEASEFIRE here were also discussed by states. While the UK acknowledged the importance of tracking civilian casualties and the moral duty to do so, they argued that the requirements in the current draft are unrealistic, a sentiment echoed by the US. However, there was a loud call from other states, civil society delegates and parliamentary representatives such as Stewart McDonald MP to further strengthen the declaration regarding investigations, civilian casualty tracking and data collection.

ceasefireCEASEFIRE addresses key Geneva talks on explosive weapons use in populated areas
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Global resurgence of siege warfare traps civilian populations on the frontline – new report

Read CEASEFIRE’s latest report on siege warfare here

A resurgence across world regions of the tactics of siege warfare has trapped civilian populations at the frontlines of today’s battles, finds a new report by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights. From Mariupol and other cities in Ukraine, to Mosul, Aleppo and other cities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Philippines, militaries around the world have imposed sieges leading to tens of thousands of civilian casualties and massive destruction to civilian infrastructure.

‘Protecting civilians in siege warfare: Constraints on military action’, by Professor Stuart Casey-Maslen, analyses the limits imposed by international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law on the conduct of sieges, and the role of the UK and other governments, armed forces, NATO, the UN, humanitarian actors and the civilian population itself in avoiding or minimising civilian harm.

‘The law of the Geneva Conventions requires both attacking and defending forces to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population, but in a siege civilians are trapped in the battlespace,’ said Ceasefire’s Executive Director Mark Lattimer. ‘Their treatment under siege is unbearable – and frequently unlawful.’

In addition to banning attacks that target civilians, indiscriminate attacks, and the terrorizing of the civilian population – all of which are war crimes if done intentionally – IHL prohibits the starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare and places an obligation on parties to conflict to allow humanitarian relief, including the provision of food and water, medical assistance and the evacuation of casualties and other vulnerable civilians. Evacuation should always be voluntary and both those evacuated and those left behind continue to benefit from the right to protection.

Analysing the conduct of recent sieges, including those of Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq, the report details how the laying of siege by militaries with very different approaches to the implementation of IHL can similarly result in civilian harm on a massive scale.

Russian attacks on cities in Ukraine have seen numerous reports of IHL violations, such as the targeting of civilian objects, including educational and medical facilities, indiscriminate artillery shelling and the use of cluster munitions in or near residential areas. In an unprecedented move, 41 states including the UK referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court and a war crimes investigation has been opened.

The current style of warfare favoured by the UK and other NATO members, owing much to US doctrine, is based on stand-off, long-distance precision strikes, delivered on an industrial scale. While there may be benefits in terms of force protection, the extensive destruction that results can also be catastrophic for civilians trapped under siege.

‘Public revulsion at the treatment of civilians in cities under siege in Ukraine should spark urgent reflection in militaries around the world,’ added Mr Lattimer. ‘Their playbook may be different, but the end result is disturbingly familiar – mass civilian casualties and widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.’

Despite its devastating effect on civilians in recent years, siege warfare and its particular challenges are not mentioned once in the 2020 NATO Protection of Civilians Handbook – nor in the UK’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy published in 2021.

Ceasefire’s report calls on the UK and other governments to:

  • Review legal guidance and military doctrine to ensure that IHL protections are being fully implemented in situations of siege
  • Improve pre-attack proportionality assessment procedures, including removing the assumption that where civilians are not visible they are not present, and incorporating an estimation of the reverberating effects on civilians
  • As part of current intergovernmental negotiations on a Political Declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, commit to avoiding the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in towns and cities, in particular where civilians are trapped under siege.

 

For further information or interviews, please email contact@ceasefire.org.

ceasefireGlobal resurgence of siege warfare traps civilian populations on the frontline – new report
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The Human Rights Act and Reparations for Civilian Harm: Explained

Read our submission to the consultation on reforming the Human Rights Act here.

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) is a piece of legislation which incorporates the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic UK law. It enables individuals to defend their rights in UK courts, as well as in Strasbourg, and requires public organisations to respect and promote human rights. The HRA contains 16 key rights, including the right to life, right to liberty, and the right to be free from discrimination.

What is the Human Rights Act?

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) is a piece of legislation which aims to incorporate the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. It enables individuals to defend their rights in UK courts, as well as in Strasbourg, and requires public organisations to respect and promote human rights. The HRA contains 16 key rights, including the right to life, right to liberty, and the right to be free from discrimination.

What is the government’s consultation on reform of the HRA?

Successive governments have signalled that they wish to reform the HRA. For example, the Conservatives promised to replace the HRA with a ‘British Bill of Rights’ in their 2015 manifesto, although this did not come to fruition in that parliament.

The current government set up an independent panel, called the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR), in December 2020, to examine how the HRA works 20 years after its creation.

In December 2021, the government published the IHRAR’s report. At the same time, it announced plans to ‘overhaul’ the HRA and replace it with a new Bill of Rights.  It published a paper outlining this proposal in five main areas:

  1. Respecting common law traditions and strengthening the role of the UK Supreme Court
  2. Restoring a sharper focus on protecting fundamental rights
  3. Preventing the incremental expansion of rights without democratic oversight
  4. Introducing responsibilities within the human rights framework
  5. Facilitating dialogue with Strasbourg, while guaranteeing Parliament and the devolved legislatures their proper roles.

The consultation closed on 8 March 2022. The government will publish a report summarising the responses to the consultation and conduct an impact assessment checking how any reforms would impact different groups of people. It will then have to decide if it does indeed want to reform the Human Rights Act and will propose a bill if so.

The government’s plans have been widely decried by human rights organisations including Liberty, The British Institute of Human Rights, and Amnesty International.

What does ‘extraterritorial jurisdiction’ mean in relation to the HRA?

A contentious and difficult issue for both the HRA and ECHR has been the question of whether and in what circumstances the Convention applies to acts carried out in a foreign State, including during armed conflict.

Multiple court cases have confirmed that human rights do indeed apply in certain cases in overseas military operations. For example, when a State party exercises control over a foreign territory or when if it exercises authority over an individual. However, there is still significant debate about which specific circumstances apply.

It is the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA which has allowed some civilians who have been harmed during UK military operations to claim reparations. While there are other legal avenues for individuals to pursue, many of these claims have been brought under the HRA. For more information on this, see CEASEFIRE’s latest report on reparations for civilian harm from UK military operations.

What does the consultation document say about extraterritorial jurisdiction?

Last year, the parliament passed the Overseas Operations Act 2021, albeit in significantly amended form. As part of the legislation, the government had initially proposed imposing a duty on the secretary of state to consider derogating from the ECHR in relation to ‘significant’ overseas operations. While this component of the bill was dropped, the Overseas Operations Act did introduce a new six-year limitation period or ‘longstop’ on claims made under the HRA. The legislation drew criticism from across a broad range of experts. For example, Michael Clarke, former Director General of Royal United Services Institute, argued that the proposals ‘fly in the face of international legal norms’ and former senior military figures and the Law Society lined up to add their criticism.

The government’s consultation paper includes one main section on the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA (pp.277-281). The paper argues that while the HRA and ECHR have created ‘uncertainty’ for members of the armed forces engaging in overseas operations, there is ‘no domestic legislative solution’ to this issue, as it may create a ‘gap’ between the ECHR and domestic legislation.

Instead, the paper adopts the recommendation from the IHRAR panel, which is that the Government raise the issue with other State Parties to the Convention in the hopes of amending the ECHR to limit its applicability in overseas military operations.

What does CEASEFIRE say about this proposal?

The proposals in the consultation paper pose a troubling risk to the rights of civilians in conflict.

Firstly, the proposed approach would be difficult to achieve in practice. Even when there has been widespread recognition of the need for reform within the Convention system and diplomatic will to achieve it, the process of reforming the Convention has usually involved multiple inter-governmental conferences. However, there is no recognised need for this reform. Leaving aside the technical difficulty of the subject matter, such a protocol may also be perceived as an attempt to weaken accountability for abuses by the military forces of powerful States. Given that the most prominent likely supporter of such a protocol, other than the UK, would be the Russian Federation, its promotion in the current circumstances would be politically untenable.

Furthermore, CEASEFIRE’s view is that this should not even be attempted by the government. The HRA has provided civilians with an important mechanism to get some compensation for harm caused by the UK’s military operations, as outlined in our latest report.

Rather than trying to change the application of the law to military operations, the government should take alternative approaches to address underlying problems which lead applicants to use the ECHR/HRA system in the first place.

CEASEFIRE makes the following recommendations to the government:

  1. Improve enforcement of International Humanitarian Law in military operations
  2. Offer alternative, independent and effective forums for complaints to be addressed
  3. Conduct prompt, effective independent and impartial investigations where problems arise in theatre and improve investigation methods
  4. The UK should seek complementary application of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law during military operations, as this is consistent with the UK’s other legal obligations and international legal practice.

Read our submission to the consultation on reforming the HRA here.

Read our report on reparations for civilian harm from UK military operations here.

 

ceasefireThe Human Rights Act and Reparations for Civilian Harm: Explained
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CEASEFIRE submits evidence to the UK government consultation on reform of the Human Rights Act

Read our submission to the consultation on reforming the Human Rights Act here.

CEASEFIRE has submitted a response to the Ministry of Justice consultation to abolish the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and instead replace it with a new Bill of Rights. CEASEFIRE’s submission, drafted by legal expert Dr Stuart Wallace, responds specifically to the section on the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA.

CEASEFIRE’s view is that any attempt to remove overseas military operations from the application of human rights law, whether by means of an international protocol, domestic legislation, or derogation, poses a severe threat to the rights of civilians. The government also faces formidable obstacles in its proposals for this and is unlikely to achieve its aims.

Rather than trying to change the application of the law to military operations, the government should take alternative approaches to address underlying problems which lead applicants to use the ECHR/HRA system in the first place.

CEASEFIRE makes the following recommendations to the government:

  1. Improve enforcement of IHL in military operations
  2. Offer alternative, independent and effective forums for complaints to be addressed
  3. Conduct prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations where alleged violations occur in theatre and improve investigation methods
  4. The UK should seek complementary application of IHL and IHRL during military operations, as this is consistent with the UK’s other legal obligations and international legal practice.

Our report Reparations for Civilian Harm in Military Operations: Towards a UK Policy examines compensation claims for civilians harmed by UK military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these claims are made under the Human Rights Act 1998.

Read our full submission here. Our thanks goes to Dr Stuart Wallace for drafting this submission.

We have also published a short article explaining the HRA, extraterritorial jurisdiction of the HRA, and what the consultation proposes.

ceasefireCEASEFIRE submits evidence to the UK government consultation on reform of the Human Rights Act
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In Iraq’s disputed territories, militias dictate civilians’ lives

In Iraq’s disputed territories, government-funded militias are having a destructive impact on governance, economic life, and community relations, according to a report released today by the Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights. The dominance of these militias is acting as a major barrier to the return of civilians displaced by the conflict with ISIS, especially members of minorities.

The report, entitled ‘They Are in Control’: The rise of paramilitary forces and the security of minorities in Iraq’s disputed territories investigates the newly empowered role of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq’s ethnically and religiously diverse disputed territories. The report looks at the situation in the Ninewa plain, Tal Afar, Sinjar and Kirkuk since the end of the conflict with ISIS.

ceasefireIn Iraq’s disputed territories, militias dictate civilians’ lives
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Ceasefire opens legal helpdesk in Mosul to promote civilian access to reparation

Ceasefire opens legal helpdesk in Mosul to promote civilian access to reparation

December 2021

Civilians harmed by military operations have a right to compensation under Iraqi law, but the complex requirements to file a claim have left the process out of reach for many. Ceasefire’s new legal helpdesk in Mosul hopes to solve some of those problems.

SianCeasefire opens legal helpdesk in Mosul to promote civilian access to reparation
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