By all accounts, demographic pressures in the Gaza Strip — in terms of population density, age structure, and growth rate — are extraordinarily high compared to neighboring countries and regions. This population pressure, combined with limited resources and territorial isolation, places immense strain on public services, social and political institutions, and the natural environment. At the same time, insecurity resulting from a deteriorating political context leads to further poverty and unemployment. Together these conditions require both immediate attention and long-term development planning, both of which are, admittedly, difficult in an environment of continuing political uncertainties. Since September 2000, the Gaza population has suffered periods of protracted closure imposed by the Israeli authorities. This has had deleterious consequences on the socioeconomic situation in the Gaza Strip. Currently, 30.3% of the Gazan workforce is unemployed. Concomitantly, poverty is rampant. As of 2004, 37.2% of Gazan families were below the poverty line, 26.0% of whom experienced extreme poverty suggesting that the majority of poor households in Gaza are unable to meet their most basic needs. These challenges to human security are exacerbated by the fact that approximately 64% of the Gaza population are refugees , approximately half of whom still reside in camps.
In attempt to move beyond a past marked by conflict, terror, and violence, Iraq has many hurdles to overcome in achieving social reconstruction and transitional justice. This study reflects the views of Iraqis regarding past human rights abuses, justice and accountability, truth-seeking and remembrance, amnesty, reparations, and reconciliation. Using this data, the study makes recommendations on how Iraq may address the needs and wants of its citizens for fairness, accountability, and justice, while simultaneously prioritizing a peaceful future.
The Israeli re-invasion of Gaza this July has redrawn the world’s attention to the dire straits of the population living in the Gaza Strip. There, within an area the size of the Isle of Wight, 1.4 million people live without free access to the outside world. Contrary to international hopes, the Israeli decision to withdraw from Gaza in September 2005 has led to increasingly tight control over the movement of goods and people. The destruction of the Gaza power station in addition to the damage to bridges, roads, and other infrastructure can only worsen the plight of Gazans in the coming months.
The purpose of this report is to present the results of a youth roundtable on constitutional and legal reform, hosted February 5-6, 2003, by the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) and co-organized by the Afghanistan Youth Center (AYC). This roundtable discussion, entitled “The Future of the Afghan Legal System: Perspectives from the Young Generation,” was held at the Khyber Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. The roundtable was organized as one of a series of activities aimed at enriching the information environment in which legal reform decisions are made in Afghanistan by the Afghanistan Transitional Administration (ATA), the Drafting Committee of the Constitutional Commission, the Judicial Reform Commission, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), and the international community of donor nations. The current publication reflects further research and observation in the months of February through June 2003. It is hoped that many of the views expressed by the participants will serve as an example of the types of frank and open conversations on sensitive issues that can and should take place in the critical months leading to the Constitutional Loya Jirga in October 2003.
L’après-guerre froide a été marqué par une rupture dans la réglementation internationale régissant le recours à la force. Malgré le potentiel dévastateur des armes nucléaires, la Guerre froide avait la vertu de réguler le flux de violence. Elle constituait un déploiement tangible de forces antinomiques dont le déclin a conduit, en particulier, à la transformation de la façon dont la conflictualité est canalisée, organisée et argumentée. «Au commencement de la Guerre froide, ce régime a insisté sur l’inviolabilité des obligations du droit international, conformément au dicton pacta sunt servanda (‹les traités lient›). Les dix dernières années de ce conflit, il y a eu un soutien grandissant en faveur de la doctrine légale rebus sic stantibus (‹pour autant que les choses restent ainsi›) qui aurait résilié ces accords si les conditions au moment de la signature n’avaient plus été réunies.»
Behind the doors of the most influential human rights organizations in the world, a crisis has been forming. It is a crisis that has become more acute with the increased global media, military, and economic focus on the Middle East/Muslim world since the September 11, 2001, attacks. The Middle East has long been considered a desert of non-compliance within the human rights community, often depicted as the region of the world least interested in international human rights law. The Middle East is, in fact, seen by some as the most rights-abusing region in the world. The growing sense in the West that something must be done about human rights in the Muslim world has pushed the region to the top of the priority list for major human rights organizations. At the same time, there is a sense within many international non-governmental organizations (“INGOs”) that the human rights movement’s response to recent events in the Middle East has been reactive, responding to an agenda set largely by the Bush administration and subject to the whims of global media attention. For many, it seems that human rights organizations are following the U.S. military into the Muslim world. Many also feel that the human rights movement’s rhetoric uncomfortably echoes that of the Bush administration, proclaiming disturbingly similar ends while espousing different means. Aside from making individual human rights professionals uncomfortable, this situation has brought a long-simmering dilemma within the Western-based human rights movement to the surface. This dilemma, yet to be openly addressed, concerns how the human rights movement should deal with Islamic law.
Recent incidents involving private security companies (PSCs) in Iraq have raised questions among governments and international agencies regarding the appropriate legal framework to regulate these organizations as well as to determine both company and employer liability under international humanitarian law (IHL). While the use of PSCs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has remained more limited than in Iraq, the growing presence of PSCs, especially at military checkpoints and crossings, has raised concerns among humanitarian practitioners. The purpose of this policy brief is to assess current uncertainties concerning the legal status of PSCs as they relate to the work of humanitarian agencies, the integrity of military chain of command, and the protection of civilian populations. A central issue lies in determining the extent to which PSC employees are to be considered agents of the Occupying Power and therefore no different, in legal terms, from any member of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), or whether they represent a new and separate legal entity whose behavior cannot be directly attributable to the Occupation Power under IHL. For example, what are the legal duties and responsibilities of PSC employees in terms of facilitating humanitarian workers’ access to the occupied population? In the event that PSC employees are involved in military engagements in occupied territory, or if they detain, injure, or kill civilians, what accountability structure applies to their actions? In interviews with humanitarian practitioners in both the UN and the NGO communities, HPCR researchers found that these questions are beginning to trouble those responsible for the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population.
A prominent issue in contemporary international law and policy involves civilians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (“OPT”)1 who wish to seek reparation for damage allegedly sustained as a result of Israel’s activities vis-à-vis the OPT, whether in the course of belligerent occupation or armed conflict. This policy brief provides humanitarian practitioners with a basic understanding of the legal framework applicable to that issue. Given the sensitive nature of the topic it examines, this policy brief aims to equip readers with the conceptual tools necessary to understand the various arguments from different viewpoints. The main question to be addressed is whether in the above-outlined context a victim of a violation of international law has a right to compensation. This paper does not take any position as to whether Israel has, or has not, violated international law in any of the instances discussed. Nor does the paper address whether individual persons acting on behalf of the State of Israel may be held criminally liable for their acts. Also outside the scope of this paper is the situation of Israeli civilians having suffered damage as a result of the situation.
On 14 April 2004, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presented to President George W. Bush a Disengagement Plan designed, according to the Israeli prime minister, to improve the security of Israel and stabilize its political and economic situation. After the original disengagement plan was defeated in a Likud referendum in early May, the Israeli prime minister issued a revised version of his Disengagement Plan on 6 June 2004. The core component of this Plan is a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the northern part of the West Bank, designed to allow a more effective deployment of Israeli military forces and reduce the friction with the Palestinian population. The proposed Plan is based on the assumptions that, in any future permanent status arrangement between Israel and its Palestinian counterpart, there are unlikely to be any Israeli towns and villages left in the Gaza Strip and that some areas of the West Bank are likely to be integrated with the state of Israel, including cities, towns, and villages inhabited by Israeli settlers as well as security areas, installations, and other places of special interest to Israel. The proposed disengagement raises a number of legal issues that will be reviewed in this policy brief.
In the post-9/11 era, humanitarian organizations face a growing dilemma regarding access to vulnerable groups in internal conflicts. On the one hand, international actors have increasingly recognized the importance of engaging with non-state armed groups (NSAGs) to ensure the timely delivery of humanitarian assistance in crisis-affected territories. On the other hand, in recent years, political and policy actors operating at domestic, regional, and international levels have pursued security policies and enacted laws geared toward curbing relationships with NSAGs accused of executing acts of terrorism.
The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over the recent years, prompting record-high levels of international aid. In view of the complexity of the political and social environment in which these challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, innovative and creative programmatic responses are essential to address the short and middle-term needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region.
The way in which international actors implement monitoring, reporting, and fact finding (MRF) mechanisms is changing. Modern MRF mechanisms date back to 1913, when, after the Balkans had erupted in war for the second time in two years, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace initiated a commission to investigate potential violations of international law. But the Carnegie Endowment did not begin its work until fighting had ceased, believing, as the mission’s final report notes, that a mission initiated before the conflict’s conclusion would be “premature.” In contrast, almost a century later, as massive protests erupted in numerous autocratic Arab countries in 2011, international actors felt no need to hesitate. Instead, MRF actors initiated MRF missions to examine potential violations of international law in Yemen, Libya, Syria, and Bahrain, all contexts in which violent conflicts continued to unfurl, as well as Tunisia and Egypt, where massive protests had recently led to transfers of political power. These missions represent a trend in the world of MRF toward more rapid deployment.
Treatment of non-communicable diseases such as cancer in refugees is neglected in low-income and middle-income countries, but is of increasing importance because the number of refugees is growing. The UNHCR, through exceptional care committees (ECCs), has developed standard operating procedures to address expensive medical treatment for refugees in host countries, to decide on eligibility and amount of payment. We present data from funding applications for cancer treatments for refugees in Jordan between 2010 and 2012, and in Syria between 2009 and 2011. Cancer in refugees causes a substantial burden on the health systems of the host countries. Recommendations to improve prevention and treatment include improvement of health systems through standard operating procedures and innovative financing schemes, balance of primary and emergency care with expensive referral care, development of electronic cancer registries, and securement of sustainable funding sources. Analysis of cancer care in low-income refugee settings, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is needed to inform future responses.