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International Review of the Red Cross, 2011 - No. 881 – Conflict in Afghanistan (II)

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The International Review of the Red Cross is a quarterly published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Cambridge University Press.


Texts published by the Review reflect the views of the author alone and not necessarily those of the ICRC or of the Review. Only texts bearing an ICRC signature may be ascribed to the institution.


Issue No. 881 - 2011

Theme Conflict in Afghanistan (II)

Download pdfPDF 4 MB The year 2011 marks the tenth anniversary of the launching of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’. For Americans, this is one of the longest wars in the history of their country, but when the American forces started to bomb Afghanistan the population of that country had already been suffering the ravages of civil wars, foreign intervention, and oppressive regimes for over twenty years. The Afghan conflict poses several challenges: that of building up stability in a territory ravaged by three decades of conflicts; that of the adequacy of the law to deal with the current crisis; and that of humanitarian action conducted by actors with varying goals and methods who are all operating in the same context.
Conflict in Afghanistan (I) : issue No. 880
Conflict in Afghanistan (II) : issue No. 881

Table of contents

Afghanistan, law and humanitarian action

  • Interview with Fatima Gailani
    Ms Fatima Gailani was appointed as the President of the Afghan Red Crescent Society in 2005. She was born in 1954 in Kabul and is the daughter of Pir Sayed Ahmed Gailani, the leader of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, who fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. She lived in exile during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and acted as spokesperson in London for the Afghan Mujahideen. After her return to Afghanistan she was chosen as a delegate to the Emergency Loya Jirga (Grand Council) of June 2002 and was appointed as a constitution-drafting and -ratifying commissioner.
  • Has the armed conflict in Afghanistan affected the rules on the conduct of hostilities?
    Robin Geiss, Michael Siegrist
    The objective of this article is to assess whether the armed conflict in Afghanistan has affected the application and interpretation of the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precaution – principles that form the core of legal rules pertaining to the conduct of hostilities.
  • International law and armed non-state actors in Afghanistan
    Annyssa Bellal, Gilles Giacca, Stuart Casey-Maslen
    An effective legal regime governing the actions of armed non-state actors in Afghanistan should encompass not only international humanitarian law but also international human rights law. Although the applicability of international human rights law to armed non-state actors remains highly controversial its applicability to such actors exercising control over a population is slowly becoming more accepted.
  • The Layha for the Mujahideen: an analysis of the code of conduct for the Taliban fighters under Islamic law
    Dr. Muhammad Munir
    The following article focuses on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Rules for the Mujahideen to determine their conformity with the Islamic jus in bello. The author argues that many of the Taliban rules have only a limited basis in, or are wrongly attributed to, Islamic law.
  • Combatants, not bandits: the status of rebels in Islamic law
    Sadia Tabassum
    The Islamic law on rebellion offers a comprehensive code for regulating the conduct of hostilities in non-international armed conflicts and thus it can be used as a model for improving the contemporary international legal regime.
  • Between a rock and a hard place: integration or independence of humanitarian action?
    Antonio Donini
    This article looks at the tension between principles and politics in the response to the Afghan crisis, and more specifically at the extent to which humanitarian agencies have been able to protect themselves and their activities from overt instrumentalization by those pursuing partisan political agendas.
  • 30 years in Afghanistan. ICRC photo archives account by Alberto Cairo
    Alberto Cairo
    The Review asked Alberto Cairo, head of the ICRC orthopaedic programme in Afghanistan since 1992, to make his own selection of pictures from the ICRC’s photo library collection, which covers its activities in conflicts throughout the world from the 1860s to the present day.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan: reasserting the neutrality of humanitarian action
    Fiona Terry
    Neutrality as a guiding principle of humanitarian action was roundly rejected by most actors in Afghanistan’s latest conflict. One party to the conflict commandeered assistance and aid organizations into a counter-insurgency campaign, and the other rejected Western aid organizations as agents of an imperialist West. Rather than abandon a neutral stance the ICRC persevered and, through some innovative and sometimes risky initiatives, managed to show both sides the benefits of having a neutral intermediary in conflict.

Selected articles on international humanitarian law

  • The protective scope of Common Article 3: more than meets the eye
    Jelena Pejic
    The article sets out a possible typology and argues that Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions may be given an expanded geographical reading as a matter of treaty law. It also suggests that there is a far wider range of rules – primarily of a binding nature, but also policy-based – that apply in Common Article 3 armed conflicts with regard to the treatment of persons in enemy hands and the conduct of hostilities.

Reports and documents

Books and articles