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.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Portrait of Antonio Coco News

LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: What our Alumni Say

16 February 2021

Antonio Coco is a Lecturer at the University of Essex’s School of Law, where he teaches a variety of courses on international law. In this interview, he tells about the LLM and what it brought to his career.

Read more

Portrait of Hannah Milena Elias News

MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: What our Students Say

8 February 2021

In this interview, Hannah-Milena Elias, currently enrolled in our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, tells about the programme and life in Geneva.

Read more

View of Villa Moynier Event

Open House: Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict

16 June 2021, 12:30-13:30

Join us for our open house to learn more about this part-time programme designed professionals, meet staff, students and alumni, and discuss career opportunities.

Read more

Côte d'Ivoire,  Abidjan, military instruction center in Akandjé. An ICRC dissemination session on international humanitarian law for the 1st bataillon of commando paratroopers. Short Course

The Implementation of International Humanitarian Law

Winter 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.

Read more

Syria, destroyed building and ambulance Short Course

Basic Principles of International Humanitarian Law

Fall 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, examines the sources of international humanitarian law (IHL). It provides an introduction to the key principles and terminology of IHL.

Read more

View of a session of the UN Human Rights Council Project

Human Rights Conversations

Started in January 2020

A series of events aimed at discussing contemporary issues and challenges related to the promotion and protection of human rights in Geneva and beyond.

Read more

Session of a UN Treaty Body Project

Treaty Bodies Individual Communications Procedures

Started in January 2019

Read more

cover of the publication Publication

Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

published on March 2021

Alice Priddy

Read more