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Recognizing and Combating Feminicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women

Recognizing and Combating Feminicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women

On 23 September 2021, Fight for Humanity’s Co-Director, and Founder Ann-Kristin “Anki” Sjöberg presented on the topic of feminicide at The Geneva Press Club at an event called “The international recognition of feminicide as a crime similar to genocide.” According to Sjöberg, the concept of feminicide, by putting “a name on something that’s happening in many parts of the world, but that is too often [marginalized]," can “helps us frame problems and our solutions, in order to move us forward.” But femicide, understood as the intentional killing of women and girls because they are female, can be prevented. She stressed that “men who misbehave against women often do so because they have misunderstood what it means to be part of the community of men, what being a man is about, and because they a mimicking a negative behavior.” Thus, she emphasized, “the need to work, with men, to change that.” Sjöberg focused her presentation on one element that frequently accompanies feminicide, which is sexual violence. She noted that sexual violence is “always prohibited […] against anyone, everywhere, at any time”, yet, it still remains incredibly prevalent. The concept of sexual violence as a practice was developed by the scholar Elisabeth Wood, who believes that the practice of sexual violence is not necessarily ordered but tolerated by commanders. “It means that if toleration ends, sexual violence may end.” Sexual violence as a strategy, however, is more challenging to confront, as the objective of such violence is employed “totally contrary to humanitarian law and human rights.” Although preventing sexual violence and feminicide may be challenging, Sjöberg believes that it is crucial to continue to document and understand these violations, the trends, and the actors perpetrating it as well as pressure the international community to denounce situations of femicide globally, to demand solutions, and to propose applicable measures. “Sexual violence and violence against women activists can never be tolerated. It can never be considered ‘a mistake’. It is a crime , and we need to do what we can to stop it”. Read Fight for Humanity's presentation transcript here: https://bit.ly/3HSUg3Z Watch the full event here: https://bit.ly/3MsjwSl

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Detained children from ISIS-related families: how to best protect their rights in NE Syria.

Detained children from ISIS-related families: how to best protect their rights in NE Syria.

The sixth event of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series: “Detained children from ISIS-related families: how to protect their rights in North East Syria?”. On 22 December 2021, more than 60 participants attended the sixth edition of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series “first-hand views on human rights and peace” about the situation of detained children from families of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in North-East Syria (NES). Four panelists discussed the current status of these children and the challenges to their reintegration and repatriation. More than 700 ISIS-related children are currently detained in the region, and many of their rights are violated: they are facing restrictions on seeing their families, obstacles to their development and access to education, poor health, hygiene, and security conditions, and exposure to radicalized individuals in the detention centres. Dr. Annyssa Bellal, a senior legal expert and researcher, discussed the legal responsibilities of the actors involved in this multi-faceted and challenging situation. “...human beings have a right to security [in] prisons and cannot be detained arbitrarily…one needs to know when and how [they will] be released.” Fight for Humanity is currently providing aid to improve their detention conditions; however, it is clear that these children should be not be detained arbitrarily but rather reintegrated into society in the case of detained Syrians and repatriated to their home countries for non-Syrians. Dr. Abdul Karim Omar, Head of Foreign Affairs Office of the Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria (AANES), explained that his administration faces significant challenges with the detainees and called “all countries to repatriate their own citizens” and further “to support the AANES to help improve the situation of women and children in camps.” Yet, some countries have decided to fully repatriate their citizens detained in NES. Cholpon Orozobekova, Director at the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations, spells out what successful repatriation looks like stating, “The experiences of other countries especially Central Asian countries show that repatriation is possible and can be successful…[A] majority of the children go to school now, and most have integrated well and receive good grades.” Ms. Orozobekova also pointed out a number of challenges she has identified from government officials regarding repatriation; these include the absence of an official consulate in the AANES, the inability to try crimes committed without evidence, and security concerns of repatriations. Mehmet Balci, Founder and Co-Director of Fight for Humanity, concluded, “ISIS is recruiting using the treatment [within detention centers and camps] as their main argument to reorganize outside the camps—not just inside.” To avoid creating a new generation of terrorists, it is essential to succeed in reintegrating those children. Fight for Humanity will keep advocating for a solution for these children and start psycho-social support as well as recreational and educational activities. Watch the full recording of the webinar here.

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Environmental Threats Or Assets? Exploring the Engagement of Non-State Armed Actors...

Environmental Threats Or Assets? Exploring the Engagement of Non-State Armed Actors...

In this article, Independent Diplomat's Guillaume Charron and Fight for Humanity Co-director, Anki Sjöberg give insight on relations between non-state armed actors and environmental protections. Their article titled "Environmental Threats Or Assets? Exploring the Engagement of Non-State Armed Actors on the Protection of the Environment" was part of a larger white paper project made possible through joint efforts by Ecosystem for Peace, the Geneva Peace Building group, and the Environmental Peacebuilding group. Featuring a compendium with contributions from nearly 150 authors, this white paper initiative seeks to influence policy, aid collaboration, and provide solutions for environmental peacebuilding in conflict zones. To read the article and white paper, please click here.

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700 children at risk in an attack against a detention center in North East Syria

700 children at risk in an attack against a detention center in North East Syria

Around 700 detained children are trapped in the middle of an attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the prison of Ghuwayran in Hasake, Northeast Syria. In this centre, administered by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, around 5000 ISIS members were detained as well as 700 male teenagers that were separated from ISIS families held in al Hol camp. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the attack, launched on Thursday 20th January, and the fighting it triggered, have resulted in at least 154 victims among both those within the prison administration and detainees. The detention centre is still partially under the control of ISIS fighters - both detainees and fighters from the outside and fightings are going between the Syrian Democratic Forces and these ISIS fighters, around and inside the detention centre. Fight for Humanity is seriously concerned about the situation - particularly the welfare of the 700 children - and calls all involved parties to make all efforts towards: • An immediate ceasefire • The safe release and evacuation of all children from the detention centre • The release of injured people and removal of the dead from inside the detention centre • The release of all civilians that were working in the detention centre • The humane treatment of captured fighters by all parties Fight for Humanity advocates for safe solutions for these children and calls on concerned states to ensure children of their nationality are safely repatriated at the earliest opportunity. Since September 2021, Fight for Humanity has been working with the support of Medico International, to support these detained children, notably through recreational and educational activities.

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Detained children from ISIS-related families: how to protect their rights in North East Syria?

Detained children from ISIS-related families: how to protect their rights in North East Syria?

Webinar series: first-hand views on human rights and peace Wednesday 22 December 2pm (CET) Geneva/Switzerland time 3pm Syria time and 8am (EST)  New York time >> Register for the event About the event Tens of thousands of children from ISIS-related families are currently held in camps in North East Syria. Of these children, more than 700 were separated and sent to detention centers, reportedly for security reasons. Protecting their rights in such a complex environment poses important challenges. This event will look at the current situation of children in the camps and detention centers, the related legal challenges, as well as the issues of return and reintegration, taking into consideration experiences of repatriation. Among the children, around 27’000 are foreigners (20’000 from Iraq and the rest from a number of countries). While some countries of origin have repatriated some of the most vulnerable of their children, others have not yet done so. In addition to restrictions on seeing their families, obstacles to their development and access to education, poor health, hygiene and security conditions, and exposure to radicalized individuals in the camps and the detention centres, this situation violates the basic rights of the children and places them at risk of radicalization. Fight for Humanity, in collaboration with its local partners, is supporting more than 700 children in detention with basic educational, social, and recreational activities to provide hope and facilitate their future reintegration into society. Speakers
Moderator: Nicolas Sion, Fight for Humanity, Head of Development
Panelists: Dr. Abdul Karim Omar, Head of Foreign Affairs Office of the Autonomous Administration of North East Syria Cholpon Orozobekova, Director, the Bulan Institute for Peace Innovations Dr. Annyssa Bellal, Senior Legal Advisor and Researcher Mehmet Balci, Fight for Humanity, Founder and Co-Director Language: English with interpretation in Arabic
Event registration is mandatory. Once you have registered you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the event on 22 December. 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: during the event, you can 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 The event is part of Fight for Humanity’s Webinar series “First-hand views on human rights and peace”. The objective of these webinars is to give the opportunity to key conflict actors as well as organisations based in conflict areas to express their views on human rights, peace and the protection of civilians.

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How to best protect cultural heritage during conflict? Answers from three professionals.

How to best protect cultural heritage during conflict? Answers from three professionals.

The fifth event of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series: “first-hand views on human rights and peace”. On 27 September 2021, Fight for Humanity organized the webinar “Protecting cultural heritage during conflict: experiences from Somalia, Somaliland, Syria and Yemen” to discuss the different efforts and first-hand experiences of three organizations committed to protect cultural heritage. Amer Ahmad of Orient Association (Syria), Dr. Jaklin Mansoor Mohammed Ahmad of the Ruaa Center for Strategic Studies, Consultancy, and Training (Yemen), and Dr. Sada Mire of Horn Heritage Organization (Somalia and Somaliland) highlighted their progress, successes, and challenges in operationalizing the protection of cultural heritage in these territories. More than 80 people participated in the event including Dr. Maja Kominko of the ALIPH Foundation who was present as an observer. While there are international laws protecting cultural heritage during conflict, artefacts, historical monuments and buildings, archaeological sites, and museums are often neglected, looted, or destroyed, sometimes being deliberately targeted by conflicting parties. Despite risks and challenges related to the conflict situations, many activists, archeologists, local, and international organizations have made the protection of cultural heritage their priority, taking the responsibility of implementing protection and conservation measures in conflict-ridden regions. Amer Ahmad of Orient Association, based in North East Syria, explained how his organization has taken important operational measures: “last year we undertook the restoration of the Tell Beydar site”. This project, in partnership with Fight for Humanity and supported by the ALIPH Foundation, aimed to protect the historical site of the Nabada Palace from damages caused by weather, vandalism, and neglect. He also highlighted measures taken more recently to catalogue and document hundreds of artefacts and confiscated materials, and to run awareness-raising sessions on the importance to protect this heritage in schools and military academies. Dr. Jaklin Mansoor Mohammed Ahmad of the Ruaa Center recalled a similar initiative to raise awareness in Yemen: ‘My Identity Project’ aimed to find solutions to damages made to cultural heritage and to disseminate knowledge regarding the status and importance of cultural heritage protection in Aden. This project has reached “more than 3’000 students and teachers. They relate cultural heritage to identity and to the future”. However, promoting cultural heritage in regions of conflict is not without its challenges. Dr. Sada Mire of Horn Heritage underscored numerous difficulties her organization has confronted in Somaliland including the need to reinforce local capacity, a lack of infrastructure and material, and the risk of landmines during archeological surveys. To effectively confront and overcome these challenges, the speakers stressed that measures like increasing funding, redirecting local and international attention towards the protection cultural heritage—including harnessing diaspora resources and skills—and training local armed actors, local authorities, heritage professionals and local organizations on measures to protect cultural heritage in times of conflict, can best improve the implementation and impact of their work. Preserving cultural heritage ought to be a human rights issue that concerns us all, and only through a transparent and committed cooperation between local communities, local governments, international and local NGOs, private and inter-governmental organizations, heritage professionals and scholars can cultural heritage be best protected. Anabelle Colon, volunteer at Fight for Humanity and moderator of the event, concluded: “Cultural heritage embodies knowledge. Not only by telling stories of social structures, beliefs and craftsmanship, but by teaching us about tolerance and respect for a diverse humanity.” Watch the recording by clicking here. A full report of the event will be published in the coming weeks.

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Webinar - Protecting cultural heritage during conflict: experiences from Somaliland, Syria and Yemen

Webinar - Protecting cultural heritage during conflict: experiences from Somaliland, Syria and Yemen

Webinar series: first-hand views on human rights and peace >> Register for the event Monday 27 September – 14:00 – 15:15 (CET) Syria, Somalia/Somaliland time and Yemen time: 15:00 – 16:15 About the event Even if cultural heritage is protected under international law, it continues to suffer from destruction, damage, illicit trafficking, and plunder in armed conflicts all over the globe. Despite the numerous challenges, many projects to protect cultural heritage during conflict are being implemented. While examples of “destructive” trends have been studied, not much is known about the operationalization of protective measures taken by local actors and authorities in conflict areas. The webinar intends to help build this body of knowledge and to inspire/facilitate this important work. In this panel, Fight for Humanity brings together speakers who are running such projects in Syria, Somalia and Somaliland, and Yemen with the objective to exchange on progress and challenges related the protection of cultural heritage in these extreme situations. Panelists Amer Ahmad, Archaeologist, Co-director, Directorate of Jazira Region, Self-Administration of the North East Syria, Senior Consultant, Orient Association (Syria) Dr Jaklin Mansoor Mohammed Ahmad, Associate professor in linguistics & phonetics in Aden University, Ruaa Center (Yemen) Dr Sada Mire, Executive Director of Horn Heritage Organization (Somalia and Somaliland) Agenda 2:00pm Welcome & introduction 2:10pm Panel discussion 1. Cultural heritage context in Somalia, Somaliland, Syria, and Yemen Q&A session 2. Progress and challenges on the operationalization of cultural heritage protection Q&A session 3. Looking ahead 3:00pm Concluding remarks 3:15pm End of event Moderation: Fight for Humanity Language: English Event registration is mandatory. Once you have registered you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the event on 27 September. 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 You can send your questions in advance to info@fightforhumanity.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 The event is part of Fight for Humanity’s Webinar series “First-hand views on human rights and peace”. The objective of these webinars is to give the opportunity to key conflict actors as well as organizations based in conflict areas to express their views on human rights, peace and the protection of civilians.

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Webinar Report: “Women’s rights in times of conflict"

Webinar Report: “Women’s rights in times of conflict"

Perspectives of women leaders from armed and political movements. On 19 November 2020, Fight for Humanity organized a webinar to discuss the progress and challenges faced by women leaders when trying to protect, promote, and defend the rights of women and girls in times of conflict. The event took place in the context of the 20-year anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security. In its webinar report, Fight for Humanity recalls the discussion points and the main conclusions & recommendations that came out of this webinar. To read it please click here.

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Annual report 2020 - Advocating respect for human rights

Annual report 2020 - Advocating respect for human rights

How to talk about 2020 without starting out with COVID-19? Yet, 2020 was so much more: it was our second year of existence during which we consolidated our work, but also, like many other organizations, faced the various challenges posed by the pandemic. Operationally, we streamlined our work into four main areas of human rights that we estimate especially important to support peace efforts: freedom from discrimination and the promotion of the rights of women and girls, child rights and children’s right to education, cultural rights, including the protection of cultural heritage, and freedom of expression. We implemented four projects and several activities to promote the respect for these rights in Syria and beyond. On the one hand, the human rights challenges in a post-pandemic context may seem daunting – reports of increased levels of child recruitment and use, domestic violence against women and children, crackdowns on freedom of expression and democratic processes, etc. On the other hand, many organizations – local, regional, and global – are also coming out of the health crisis with a mindset that change is needed and indeed possible, if we work together and rethink what is not working. These organizations can count on Fight for Humanity and its passion for human rights in this struggle. >> Read our annual report here >> Read our financial audited statements here

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North East Syria: launch of a platform to advocate for the rights of ISIS victims

North East Syria: launch of a platform to advocate for the rights of ISIS victims

On 27 May 2021, 50 representatives of victims, victims’ organizations, and the different communities in North East Syria, announced the creation of a platform to promote and defend the right to truth, accountability and just reparation for the thousands of victims of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the region. The victims of the ISIS-related conflict have not been well included in the advance towards political or judicial procedures. In their final declaration, they explained that “the platform advocates for a process of criminal justice in NES in conformity with the requirements of fair trial guarantees as well as the meaningful involvement of victims as part of their right to effective remedy.” It will be governed by a committee of 13 members: men, and women, representing the different minorities, including Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, and Christians. A steering committee of three members has also been elected. In their founding document, the committee formulated 11 main demands for ISIS victims, notably the need: - to be part of any judicial process - for support from the international community - for processes to be conducted according to international judicial standards, and - for crimes to be investigated and documented, notably the cases of missing persons. “This achievement is a start of an important process for all the victims and for peace in the region: victims of armed conflicts and their families are at the core of any recovering process for the community and their role is pivotal for any meaningful transitional justice in the post-conflict era” said Mehmet Balci, Fight for Humanity Co-Director. The committee will meet again to define the actions to be undertaken, notably training of victims’ organizations on international justice mechanisms, victims’ rights and the advocacy initiatives. The platform is also expected to establish local antennas in North East Syria. Fight For Humanity will continue to support this platform, through capacity building and advocacy efforts. This founding meeting, organized by Human Rights Defense Initiative, with the support of Fight for Humanity and Medico International, follows a series of meetings with civil society organizations defending the rights of conflict victims in North East Syria. In August 2020, Fight for Humanity organized an exchange between Syrian organizations and members of the Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR), an alliance of Iraqi civil society organizations. This process began following a 2019 experts' meeting in Geneva, on the legal solutions for members of the Islamic State detained in Syria.

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Webinar report: preventing the recruitment of children associated with non-state armed actors

Webinar report: preventing the recruitment of children associated with non-state armed actors

Watch the recording by clicking here and read the main conclusions and outcomes of the event by clicking here. On April 29, Fight for Humanity and Independent Diplomat co-organized a webinar on the prevention of recruitment of children by non-state armed actors. Five panelists including experts on children and armed conflict, diplomats, and representatives from non-state armed actors from Mali and Sudan discussed the challenges and progress made to protect children from use and recruitment in conflict. “Since 2018, close to 40’000 children have been released from parties to conflict”, and “10 Action Plans [to prevent child recruitment and use and other grave violations against children] are currently being implemented with non-state armed groups” stressed Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in her declaration. She also reminded the audience that despite this positive result, in 2019, 7’747 children were reported to have been recruited and used, most of them by non-state actors. “As a military actor, we should no longer believe it’s enough to state things on paper; but we need to implement and make use of existing instruments […] to protect children in conflict. […] We are non-state actors but can complement the work of the state in protecting children.”, said Mr. Attaye Ag Mohamed, Head of Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Member of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord, Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) in Mali. “While signing UN Action Plans or making unilateral declarations can demonstrate non-state actor’s desire to address problems, they can lack the capacity and support, to do so meaningfully ” explained Guillaume Charron, Geneva Director at Independent Diplomat. Anki Sjoeberg, Co-Director at Fight for Humanity, then listed key practical measures to ensure that non-state actors not only commit to the ban on child recruitment, but also implement it. For her, it is key to help build internal capacity through trainings, training of trainers and awareness-raising: everybody within the movement and the related communities should be aware that recruiting children under 18 is prohibited by the leadership of this movement. Rita French, UK Ambassador for Human Right stressed that “child protection is central for conflict prevention and resolution” and “protecting education […] is essential in preventing child recruitment and use, as it supports post-conflict reconstruction, reintegration, and peace.” She also underlined that “children’s involvement in conflict has a profound impact on their lives and […] societies’ wellbeing long after the conflict has ended.” Therefore, it is necessary to develop “long-term prospect and practical projects to allow these children to be reintegrated in daily life, to be really socialized” according to Dr. Mohamed Salih Mohamed Yassin, representative from the SPLM-N High Committee of the Joint Peace Agreement. In his concluding remarks, Guillaume Charron highlighted the importance of improving communications with non-state actors at every level: in the field, Geneva, Brussels, and in New York, as “only by engaging directly with the actors in the field we can understand the challenges”, which puts us in a better position to “empower them to create the change that we all want to see” for children. Watch the recording here and read the main conclusions and outcomes of the event here. This event, the fifth edition of Fight for Humanity’s webinar series, was sponsored by Belgium, the principality of Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom and was attended by more than 130 participants.

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World heritage day: protecting an antique palace in North East Syria

World heritage day: protecting an antique palace in North East Syria

On the occasion of the World Heritage Day on 18 April, Fight for Humanity published a video about the work it conducted with its local partner, the Orient Association, to protect the historical site of the Nabada Palace at Tell Beydar in North East Syria. This palace was built around 2500BC and covers about 25 hectares. Archaeological missions worked there for 17 years before the Syrian conflict broke out. In 2020, urgent measures were taken to protect the site from damages caused by weather, lack of care and vandalism. Watch the video report of this project.

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