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Expert meeting in Geneva: what legal solutions for members of the Islamic State detained in Syria
On 23 May 2019, more than 50 people, legal experts, representatives of States and international organizations, as well as representatives from North-East Syria got together in Geneva to examine possible legal solutions for members of the Islamic State detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces in North-East Syria. The meeting was co-organized by the NGO Fight for Humanity and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. More than 2'000 foreigners, 3'000 Syrians and a similar number of Iraqis - men, women, children - from 70 different countries are reported to be detained by the SDF in North East Syria. Their legal situation is not clear: the SDF has called for the support of the international community to judge them after many of their countries of origin decided to not to repatriate them. During the meeting, participants discussed three main options that could eventually be mixed. In the first option, these detainees would stay under the control of the SDF. The SDF might judge them or keep them without trial or even release them. The second option implies the establishment of an international tribunal under the sponsorship of the United Nations or of several countries. However, several States are reluctant and point to the many existing legal and logistical obstacles. The third option is the repatriation of the detainees to their countries of origin or the transfer to a third State. “The objective of this meeting was to formulate legal recommendations for each of these scenarios so that the victims of the crimes committed by these detainees can get reparation. Only fair trials can guarantee a long-term stability” said Mehmet Balci, Co-Director of the organization Fight for Humanity. Legal experts informed participants about the legal challenges of these options without any political considerations: can a non-State actor such as the SDF judge international detainees or participate in an international court? A report of this meeting is available and will be disseminated to the relevant actors with recommendations on key points to take into consideration for how to solve the case of these detainees.
When lives are at stake: Exploring high-pressure negotiations through storytelling
Negotiating with local authorities and armed actors in insecure environments is a critical skill that allows humanitarian organizations to help and protect those most in need. Whether it is to obtain humanitarian access or to engage armed actors on a better respect for civilian populations' rights, negotiators are always under a high pressure. At the Geneva Peace Week 2019, Fight for Humanty in partnership with the Center of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiations, the ICRC and the UNCHR offer a behind the scenes look at how to negotiate in areas affected by armed violence and the people who conduct them, using a storytelling approach. The event will also demonstrate how frontline negotiations and humanitarian issues more broadly are intertwined with building peace through dialogue, negotiation, advocacy and public communication. When lives are at stake: exploring high-pressure negotiations through storytelling Tuesday 5 November 13:30 - 15:00 Geneva Center for Security and Peace Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2D, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland Speakers – Karim Hafez, CCHN Support and Negotiations Specialist;
– Pascal Hundt, ICRC Senior Crisis Manager; – Julie Dunphy, UNHCR Senior Policy & Liaison Officer (Field Security Service)
– Mehmet Balci, FFH Co-Director and Founder
– Nicola Eva Fell, ICRC Audiovisual Producer and award-winning filmmaker The event is open to the humanitarian community and to anybody interested in listening stories from highly experimented negotiators. Event Registration The venue can accommodate up to 60 people. Please click here to confirm your participation and receive further details about the event. Event App For your convenience at the Geneva Peace Week 2019, you can download Whova app. The Geneva Peace Week event will go live on the app one week prior to the first day. In partnership with
Are the Geneva Conventions still respected?
On 23 October, Anki Sjoeberg, Fight for Humanity Co-Director, was invited by the Club suisse de la presse to speak on a a panel: " Are the Geneva Conventions still respected?" Watch her intervention as well as those of Marco Sassoli from the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Jean-Marie Henckaert from the International Committee of the Red Cross and Tawfik Chamaa from the UOSSM. To read Anki's intervention, pleace click here.
Geneva Peace Week: a behind-the-scenes look at high-pressure negotiations
At the Geneva Peace Week 2019, Fight for Humanity in partnership with the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) organized a joint event on field negotiations under pressure. The event aimed to demonstrate how frontline negotiations and humanitarian and human rights issues more broadly are intertwined with building peace through dialogue, advocacy and public communication. Voices from the Field During the first part of the event, the speakers shared personal stories about how they had dealt with high-pressure negotiations in different countries affected by armed violence. Mehmet Balci, Fight for Humanity’s Co-Director shared his experience back in 2015 when he was able to access to North East Syria to negotiate the demobilization of child soldiers. “Negotiating the access to a territory can be even more complicated than negotiating the release of children from an armed actor!” He also explained how stress about security can affect the humanitarian work and the negotiations itself. "You can mitigate the risks and prepare security plans when on the frontline, but you also have to rely on your instinct" he added. ICRC Senior Crisis Manager, Pascal Hundt told a story about a highly sensitive negotiation for the evacuation of foreign workers who suddenly found themselves on the “wrong” side of the frontline. “You have to be ready from the beginning for a long negotiation,” Hundt said. “Mentally, you prepare yourself and your team. Get ready to be confronted with extremely difficult choices and ethical dilemmas, and to know your interlocuters and stakeholders, as well as their interests.” The second speaker, Julie Dunphy, UNHCR Senior Policy & Liaison Officer (Field Security Service) recounted a negotiation with military commanders surrounding a return operation. We negotiate In the last part of the event, the audience was asked to take action itself in the course of an interactive presentation about “How well could you negotiate on the frontline?”, a project created by the ICRC. The storyline is inspired by the CCHN Field Manual on Frontline Humanitarian Negotiation. “This interactive storytelling project that we created together was a great way of talking about the work of frontline negotiators,” said Nicola Eva Fell, ICRC Video Producer. “This work has all the elements of strong storytelling: the stakes are high, it’s dangerous and secretive, and it really matters if it works.” "I don't see myself as a negotiator, but more as someone who conducts advocacy. I raise awareness, to make armed and political actors understand the long-term impact of their behaviors." added Mehmet Balci at the end of the event.
Podcast: advocating respect for Human Rights to armed groups
In this podcast, you can learn more about Fight for Humanity’s mandate to encourage armed actors to respect human rights. Please click here to listen to it. Recording and editing: https://www.greigstevens.com/
Where are the carrots? Positive discipline for armed groups
The ICRC Law & Policy blog recently published an article written by Fight for Humanity’s Co-Director Anki Sjöberg on how to positively influence armed group to better respect people's rights. We read about violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law on a near daily basis, making it seem as though our efforts to influence these actors and reduce abuses are yielding limited results. When addressing armed groups, as compared to States, we have more restricted access and a more limited toolbox to help them rethink their behaviour. Still, tapping into the spheres of neuroscience, communication, negotiation theory, prevention of violent extremism, and even child education can give us a lead on what could work in advocating for protection with armed groups. Read the full article on the ICRC Law & Policy blog.
Ceasefire in the time of COVID-19 an opportunity for Peace?
Thursday 14 May 2020 15.00 CEST - Online event
Hearing from the the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the Syrian Democratic Forces (Syria), the Southern Transitional Council (Yemen) and the National Liberation Army-ELN (Colombia)
With the participation of the United Nations Mediation Support Unit and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
About the event
Following the ceasefire appeal launched by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on 23 March 2020, a number of armed opposition actors reacted positively and declared temporary ceasefires. In this debate, several conflicting parties that have answered the call will be invited to personally express themselves on the issue, on what could be done to cease this opportunity for peace, as well as to explain their own responses to the COVID-19 crisis.
the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
the Syrian Democratic Forces (Syria)
the Southern Transitional Council (Yemen)
the National Liberation Army (Colombia)
With the participation of:
the United Nations Mediation Support Unit
the International Committee of the Red Cross Moderation: Fight for Humanity Language: English Event registration
Registration is mandatory. Once you have registered you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the event on 14 May. You will first access the event waiting room and then the moderator will allow you to join the event at 15:00 CEST.
>> Register for the event
Asking questions to the panelists
Please send your questions in advance to email@example.com. During the event, please send your questions to the moderator by chat. There will be no direct webcam or microphone interactions between participants and panelists during the event.
In the shadow of COVID19: how to respond to the worsening humanitarian situation in North East Syria
Webinar series – First-hand views on human rights and peace Thursday 18 June 2020 15:00 CEST / 16:00 Syria time - Online event With the participation of Human Rights Watch, Un Ponte Per, an initiative of 124 local NGOs and the Self-Administration in North East Syria >> Register for the event About the event While global attention is naturally focussed on the COVID-19 sanitary crisis, the humanitarian situation in North East Syria has worsened since the beginning of the pandemic, not because of the number of COVID-19 cases which has remained low but as a result of a severe economic and humanitarian crisis.
The living conditions of the population in the region have recently deteriorated due to the economic crisis in Syria and the sharp devaluation of the Syrian lira. In addition, COVID-19 travel and movement restrictions as well as limitations in authorized cross-border and cross-line movements, have made the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the population more difficult. In this webinar, panelists will discuss the humanitarian challenges faced in North East Syria (NES) and their potential responses. It will take place on the eve of the IV Brussels Conference on supporting the future of Syria. Some participants will have the opportunity to highlight their expectations from it and their proposals for the resolution of the Syrian conflicts. Agenda of the event 15:00 Introduction by Fight for Humanity 15:10 Panel Discussion Un Ponte Per - Life-saving humanitarian operations and access restrictions in NES at the time of COVID-19 Humanitarian INGO working in emergency settings - Highlight on the humanitarian crisis in NES and the persons with disabilities in armed conflict One of the initiators of a group of 124 local organizations operating in NES - Presentation of the letter they wrote to the next EU Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria Human Rights Watch - Aid restrictions hinder COVID-19 response in North East Syria and recommendations Self Administration in North East Syria - The impact of the current emergency crisis on the humanitarian needs and responses, expectations from the international community 15:50 Q&A session 16:15 End of the meeting Moderation: Fight for Humanity Language: English Event registration Registration is mandatory. Once you have registered you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the event on 18 June. You will first access the event waiting room and then the moderator will allow you to join the event at 15:00 CEST / 16:00 Syria time. The event will be recorded, edited and published. >> Register for the event Asking questions to the panelists During the event, please send your questions to the moderator by using the Q&A functionality. There will be no direct webcam or microphone interactions between participants and panelists during the event.
Annual report 2019: Advocating respect for human rights
2019 was an exciting year for Fight for Humanity. It should, as it was the first! Throughout the years working in and on conflict areas on humanitarian issues, mainly in areas of non-state or split control, we were challenged with the implementation gap on the ground. In fact, people in areas affected by violence and conflict, and especially in non-state areas, were “less equal” than others, as those controlling the areas were not considered as duty-bearers and were not included in action towards improving the respect of human rights. After several months of discussions, Fight For Humanity was born to fill this gap and work on the promotion of human rights, peace and gender in countries affected by armed conflict notably in areas controlled by non-State actors. Based on this objective, we have developed a three-year strategy that put values such as diversity, inclusion, creativity, new technology, positivity and efficiency at its core. During this first year Fight for Humanity developed the organization structurally and operationally. The governance structure was we set up, policies developed, an agreement signed with a partner that administers the accounting, payroll, and grant management, while, at the same time, organizing the first operational events in Geneva, and starting up in-country projects with partners. We would like to thank the members of our Committee, the Advisor Council, associate experts, volunteers, and human rights and humanitarian activists who helped us make this possible. >> Download our 2019 annual report >> Download our 2019 audited financial statements
Colombia: protecting peace during the current spike in armed violence in the Nariño region
On August 20, Fight for Humanity, together with the Nariño Humanitarian Group, facilitated a discussion about the violence in Nariño. The Peace Provincial Council and the Nariño Governor, the president of the National Peace Council and the United Nations in Colombia and Nariño Humanitarian Group shared their views on how to develop solutions to better protect people in the region from armed violence. This meeting followed the recent massacre in Samaniego, in which 9 young people were killed by an armed group. In the context of COVID-19, a sharp increase in armed violence has been observed in Colombia: according to NGO Indepaz, there have been 61 massacres in Colombia so far in 2020. The meeting highlighted the situation in Nariño at the national and international level. Following this discussion, the situation was prioritized in the agenda of the National Peace Council and a special session will be held on Nariño. During the meeting, participants also gave their support to the Action Plan: “10 points for peace in Samaniego”, created by the City Peace Council of Samaniego. Fight for Humanity will continue to support local initiatives to promote peace and protect people from armed violence. The “Nariño Humanitarian Group” was created in February 2020 and is composed of several humanitarian and human rights organizations, including the Colombian Campaign to ban Landmines, the South Institute - Alexander von Humbold, Compromiso Humano and Fight for Humanity. The group signed an agreement with the Nariño authorities to advise the provincial authorities and Peace Council on humanitarian and human rights issues.
A reflection on the prevention of Sexual Violence in conflict through Positive Role-Modelling
In the context of the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women and peace and security, the journal of International Peacekeeping is publishing a series of articles entitled “Peacekeeping Prevention: Strengthening Efforts to Preempt Conflict-related Sexual Violence”. Anki Sjöberg, Fight for Humanity’s co-Director, contributed to this forum with an article on experiences from the prevention of Conflict-related Sexual Violence (CRSV) with non-State armed actors. “When encouraging armed actors to prevent sexual violence and promote gender equality, it is also important to highlight positive examples, research in neuroscience has shown that only showcasing violations may have a counterproductive effect – contributing to more, not fewer violations” she says.
In her article, she provides lessons learnt from her long experience on advocating the prevention of sexual violence towards non-State armed actors and she draws a set of recommendations on how to be more successful: Working on gender issues can be a door opener with non-State armed actors, as discussions exclusively on CRSV are sensitive, provides high risks and limited incentives for them. Focusing on sexual violence and not just CRSV could help create and maintain the interest of non-State armed actors interlocutors, as they may be facing challenges that don’t relate in direct terms to the conflict, such as domestic violence and abuse. Context-specific and targeted data on violations provides a basis for advocacy work towards non-State armed actors and allows them to find solutions that fit the actual problem. If well done and acknowledging efforts undertaken it can also help build confidence in the dialogue process. Positive role-modelling is a as way of helping non-State armed actors accept a change in behaviour. “To be able to approach armed actors on this issue it is also essential that peacekeeping forces and policies support the creation or expansion of space for human rights actor such as Fight for Humanity” she stresses. To read all the articles click here and for Anki Sjöberg's article go to page 562. 20 years ago, on 31 October 2000, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted resolution 1325 that reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace-building and peacekeeping. The International Peacekeeping is an international peer-reviewed journal that examines the theory, practice, outcomes and consequences of peacekeeping operations throughout the world.  Olsson, Louise, Angela Muvumba Sellström, Stephen Moncrief, Elisabeth Jean Wood, Karin Johansson, Walter Lotze, Chiara Ruffa, Amelia Hoover Green, Ann Kristin Sjöberg and Roudabeh Kishi. 2020. FORUM. Peacekeeping Prevention: Strengthening Efforts to Preempt Conflict-related Sexual Violence, International Peacekeeping.https://doi.org/10.1080/13533312.2020.1782752
Women’s rights in times of conflict: Perspectives of women from armed and political movements
Webinar series: first-hand views on human rights and peace Thursday 19 November 2020 2:00pm - 3:15pm (CET) Colombia time: 8:00am / Syria time: 3:00pm / Yemen time: 4pm / Myanmar time: 7:30pm With the participation of women leaders from the Southern Transitional Council - STC (Yemen), the Karen National Union – KNU (Myanmar), Kongra Star - the Women Movement from North East Syria (Syria) and from the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - FARC (Colombia) >> Register for the event About the event In the context of the 20-year anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security, Fight for Humanity and Berghof Foundation are organizing an online event to discuss the promotion of the rights of women and girls in conflict settings, from the first-hand perspectives of women in leadership roles in territories governed by various armed and political movements. In this debate the women leaders will reflect upon the progress, the remaining challenges, and look forward towards what can be done within the next 20 years – and beyond – to implement SCR 1325, and more broadly to promote the rights of women and girls in their territories. Panelists Zeyneb Muhemed, Member of Coordination Committe of Kongra Star (North-East Syria) Najwa Fadhl, President advisor for women issues of the Southern Transitional Council (Yemen) Olga Lucia Marín, former combatant, Common Revolutionary Alternative Force – FARC (Colombia) Naw Wah Khu Shee, central standing committee member, Karen Women’s Organization-KWO / Karen National Union-KNU (Myanmar) Agenda (Central European time) 2:00pm Introduction 2:10pm Panel discussion 1. Progress and challenges on the rights of women and girls Q&A session 2. Looking ahead: What could be done to further promote the rights of women and girls Q&A session 3:00pm Concluding remarks 3:15pm End of event Moderation: Fight for Humanity and Berghof foundation Language: English and interpretation into Arabic, Burmese, Spanish and Kurmanji Event registration Registration is mandatory. Once you have registered you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the event on 19 November. You will first access the event waiting room and then the moderator will allow you to join the event at 2:00pm CET. Asking questions to the panelists Send your questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. During the event, you can also send your questions to the moderator by chat messages. There will be no direct webcam or microphone interactions between participants and panelists during the event. >> Register for the event