12 December 2017
Our new publication Gang Violence in Colombia, Mexico and El Salvador analyses three case studies of countries – Colombia, Mexico and El Salvador – that have stood out for their elevated rate of violence, violent homicides and criminal activities linked to confrontations between state forces and armed gangs or between armed gangs themselves.
‘These countries are severely scourged by the expansion of the phenomena of urban gangs, gang violence and organized crime’ underlines Dr Annyssa Bellal, Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law at the Geneva Academy. ‘Violence is unprecedented not only in terms of number of casualties, but also in the form it takes. In such settings, the civilian population has been and still is subject to extortion, confinement, forced displacement, gender-based violence and recruitment of minors’ she adds.
For each country, the authors – Ana Balcazar Moreno, Ximena Mercedes Galvez Lima, Julie Lambin and Lina Rodriguez – provide an overview of the violence in the country and impact on the civilian population; an overview of the main gangs involved in the violence, their tactics, structure and levels of organization; and an analysis of the states’ responses.
‘What is really striking is that the number of civilian casualties linked to gangs’ violence and states’ responses to this violence might exceed those of major current armed conflicts’ stresses Annyssa Bellal. ‘While this article does not discuss the qualification of these violent situations under international law, it highlights the heavy weaponry used by armed gangs, the fact that some of them control sizeable territory and have the ability to conduct military operations, as well as the frequent involvement of the military in the repression’ she adds.
This publication will form part, along with other analysis of conflict situations, of the War Report 2017 which will be published at the beginning of 2018.
Melina Fidelis Tzourou is enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. From 7 to 14 March, she will travel to Bali, Indonesia to represent the Geneva Academy at the Anglophone Edition of the 2020 Jean-Pictet Competition – along with Chiemelie Michael Agu and Yulia Mogutova.
Further research conducted by the RULAC research team highlighted that the level of organization of the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the intensity of the armed violence between this cartel and both the Mexican armed forces and the CJNG allow classifying these two situations as non-international armed conflicts.
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UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
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.
Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.
The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts project (RULAC) is a unique online portal that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL). It is primarily a legal reference source for a broad audience, including non-specialists, interested in issues surrounding the classification of armed conflicts under IHL.