Event information

12 July 2019, 12:15-14:00
Register start 20 June 2019
Register end 11 July 2019

Downloads

Flyer >

Foreign Fighters and their Relatives (allegedly) affiliated with ISIS and Detained in Northeast Syria

IHL Talks

A hand touches the fences of a jail A hand touches the fences of a jail

An Overview of the Legal, Policy and Humanitarian Challenges

In late March 2019, the so-called ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) surrendered its last territorial stronghold of Baghuz in eastern Syria. However, such apparent victory over the group should not make us forget the still-problematic reality on the ground.

In advancing against ISIS on the territory of Syria, the SDF – which was effectively leading the fight on the ground with aerial support of the international coalition – has indeed surrendered more than 12,000 individuals from over 70 nationalities. Attracted by ISIS’ ideology of ultra-radical Islam, these men (the so-called ‘foreign fighters’), women and children travelled to the Middle-East in order to join the group. They are now being held in and around 3 refugee camps – Roj, Ain Issa and al-Hol – in northeast Syria, which are administered by the SDF with the financial support of the United States. According to journalistic reports, the living conditions there are increasingly worrying because of lack of food, water, electricity and medical supplies. The International Committee of the Red Cross has conducted visits and confirmed these gruesome claims.

It goes without saying that the fate of those under SDF's custody and (allegedly) affiliated with ISIS is beyond uncertain. The SDF has indeed repeatedly stated that, without meaningful support from the international community, it has neither the willingness nor the resources to hold them indefinitely – thus insisting that they be repatriated by their countries of nationality. With the notable exceptions of the United States, Russia, France, Kazakhstan and Indonesia, concerned States have so far overwhelmingly categorically refused that their nationals return home due to security concerns. In late May 2019, Sweden formulated the alternative suggestion of establishing, in Jordan, ‘a tribunal or some other legal mechanism’ to prosecute foreign individuals (i.e. neither Syrian nor Iraqi nationals) who fought for ISIS.

Complementary to the closed expert-meeting recently organized with Fight for Humanity, this IHL Talk will address the humanitarian, policy and legal challenges related to the fate of foreign fighters and their relatives (allegedly) affiliated with ISIS and who are currently detained by the SDF in northeast Syria.

Incidentally, Diakonia’s international humanitarian law resource desk in Lebanon is currently working on a legal brief focusing on the legal status of the women and children under the custody of the SDF. The document will soon be available to its partners.

Moderator

  • Emilie Max, Researcher at Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Panelists

  • Nadim Houry, Executive Director, Arab Reform Initiative and Former Director of the Counterterrorism/Terrorism Program, Human Rights Watch
  • Sandra Krähenmann, Thematic Legal Adviser, Geneva Call and Author of the Geneva Academy publication Foreign Fighters under International Law
  • Wanda Toso, Child Protection Advisor, International Committee of the Red Cross

Registration

 You need to register via this online form to attend this IHL Talk.

About the IHL Talks

The IHL Talks are a series of events, hosted by the Geneva Academy, on international humanitarian law and current humanitarian topics. Every two months, academic experts, practitioners, policymakers and journalists discuss burning humanitarian issues and their regulation under international law.

Video

Foreign Fighters and their Relatives (allegedly) affiliated with ISIS and Detained in Northeast Syria

This IHL Talk addressed the humanitarian, policy and legal challenges related to the fate of foreign fighters and their relatives (allegedly) affiliated with ISIS and who are currently detained by the SDF in northeast Syria.

Location

Geneva Academy, Villa Moynier, 120B Rue de Lausanne, Geneva

Access

Public Transport

Tram 15, tram stop Butini

Bus 1 or 25, bus stop Perle du Lac

Access for People with Disabilities

Villa Moynier is accessible to people with disabilities. If you have a disability or any additional needs and require assistance in order to participate fully, please email info[at]geneva-academy.ch

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

LLM Class News

The Geneva Academy Selected as a Leading School in LLM Guide’s Recently Published List: Top 10 LLM Programmes in Human Rights Law!

14 June 2018

The Geneva Academy is selected as a leading school in LLM Guide’s recently published list of Top 10 LLM Programmes in Human Rights Law, along with other prestigious academic institutions like Columbia University, Leiden University, Georgetown University Law Center or the University of Essex.

Read more

Map of the Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts online portal News

RULAC: Updates on the Armed Conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen

19 February 2018

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) online portal features updated entries on the armed conflicts taking place in Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen. These integrate recent developments like the Turkish offensive in Afrin, Israel’s largest scale aerial attacks inside Syria, and the divisions and infightings in Yemen.

Read more

 Nelson Mandela, Deputy President of the African National Congress of South Africa, raises his fist in the air while addressing the Special Committee Against Apartheid in the General Assembly Hall. 22 June 1990 Event

Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture

18 July 2019, 18:00-19:30

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Albie Sachs, Former Judge of the South African Constitutional Court, will reflect on the current human rights challenges and how to move the human rights agenda forward.

Read more

A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

30 September - 4 October 2019

This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.

Read more

2017 edition of the Advanced Seminar in IHL for Lecturers and Researchers Training

Advanced Seminar in IHL for Lecturers and Researchers

9-13 September 2019

Organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Geneva Academy,  this advanced seminar aims to enhance the capacity of lecturers and researchers to teach and research international humanitarian law contemporary issues, addressing both substantive and pedagogical aspects.

Read more

Syria, Aleppo, Sheikh Massoud neighbourhood, near the frontline. Fighters of the Free Syrian Army. Project

‘Foreign Fighters’ and Counter-Terrorism

Completed in January 2014

Against the background of the mobilization of ‘foreign fighters’ for the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the Geneva Academy undertook various research projects to highlight and clarify a range of international law issues that arise through their participation and measures taken to stem their mobilization.

Read more

South Sudan, Warrab. An ICRC information session on the Law of Armed Conflict with soldiers from Warrab State. Project

Armed Non-State Actors and the Human Rights Council

Completed in January 2015

Launched in 2016, this project aimed to identify whether, to what extent and under what circumstances armed non-state actors incur obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights (HR) law.

Read more

Videos

IHL Talks - Foreign Fighters and their Relatives (allegedly) affiliated with ISIS and Detained in Northeast Syria

IHL Talks - Foreign Fighters and their Relatives (allegedly) affiliated with ISIS and Detained in Northeast Syria

IHL Talks - Starvation and Armed Conflicts

IHL Talks - Starvation and Armed Conflicts

IHL Talks - Search and Rescue Obligations in the Mediterranean Sea

IHL Talks - Search and Rescue Obligations in the Mediterranean Sea