International Humanitarian Law

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Military Courts and Human Rights Violations in Brazil from the Perspective of the Inter-American Human Rights System

The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil will soon rule (under a constitutional review case called Ação Direta de Inconstitucionalidade no. 5032, commonly referred to as ADI 5032) whether members of the armed forces that commit crimes against civilians during peacetime should be tried before civilian or military courts. This judgment is critical for Brazil, a country with a long (and recent) period of authoritarian military rule (1964-1985) but without comprehensive transitional justice mechanisms and State accountability for human rights violations. While the current Brazilian Constitution (adopted in 1988) restricted the institutional role of the military, starting from the 1990s, governments began to routinely employ the Armed Forces in public security contexts – from fighting organised crime in the Favelas or the Amazon rain forest to assisting local security forces with mega-events, such as the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup (often called “operations to guarantee law and order”). This resulted in a complex and conflictual institutional context: unresolved political and human rights issues combined with increasing reliance on the military for…

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Environmental Destruction in War: A Human Rights Approach

In the early hours of June 6, 2023, the 468th day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Kakhovka Dam across the Dnipro River was destroyed. The catastrophic consequences of the destruction are readily apparent. Dozens of settlements have been flooded and thousands of people are fleeing the destruction, having lost their…

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The Destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam and International Humanitarian Law: Some Preliminary Thoughts

This morning the Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine was destroyed, in circumstances which remain unclear. Thousands of people are in peril, while the devastation of downstream communities and the environment will be immense. The dam appears to have collapsed, and the reservoir behind it is now draining at speed. In this post I will just briefly set…

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The Moscow Mechanism Expert Report on the Forcible Transfer and Deportation of Ukrainian Children

Before Spring 2022, only the real connoisseurs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were familiar with the so-called Moscow Mechanism enabling any OSCE participating State to request the establishment of an ad hoc expert mission to investigate specific questions related to the OSCE human dimension. In the first thirty years of…

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Amicus Curiae Brief in Ukraine and the Netherlands v. Russia

The European Court of Human Rights recently joined two major interstate cases pending before it – the interstate case filed by Ukraine and the Netherlands against Russia that concerned the downing of the MH17 airliner and events in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, which it declared admissible in January, with the new interstate application filed by Ukraine…

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