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.
Our researcher Alice Priddy visited Colombia last week as part of our project ‘Disability and Armed Conflict’.
Yuval Shany is the Hersch Lauterpacht Chair in International Law at the Law Faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also teaches human rights in the Geneva Academy’s LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
In the context of the 2018 Geneva Peace Week and in partnership with the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), this event will address forced displacement and demographic engineering in Syria.
Un Photo/Violaine Martin
This panel will focus on the practicalities of how international humanitarian law is used and the role it plays in the work of the UN human rights machinery.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias
This short course provides an introduction to the regime of sanctions under international law and their effectiveness in addressing contemporary forms of conflict. It addresses the questions related to state responsibility, the pacific settlement of international disputes and the role of the International Court of Justice.
This short course aims to study, in depth, an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.
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.