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The following questions and answers address issues relating to international humanitarian law (the laws of war) governing the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza that took place from May…
The Jala Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Israel's air force targeted the 13-floor Jala Tower housing Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television and the Associated Press news agency.
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Forcing Parental Involvement in Abortion Violates Rights

A law in the US state of Illinois that forces people under 18 to involve an adult family member in their abortion decision is failing some of the state’s young people and violating their human rights. In a new joint report with the American Civil…
An illustration of scales imposed over a woman's torso
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Civilians Bear the Brunt of Renewed Fighting

Libya began descending into chaos after Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011. Could you summarize the complex situation in Libya today? The latest conflict started in April 2019, when an armed group in eastern Libya called…
Government of National Accord fighters take positions during clashes with east-based fighters from the Libyan National Army at Al-Yarmouk frontline in Tripoli, Libya on August 29, 2019.
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On January 31, 2020, the administration of President Donald Trump announced the reversal of US prohibitions on landmine production and use. The decision nullifies years of steps by the US to align its policy and practice with the 1997 treaty banning…
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Updated April 2018 Is abortion a human rights issue? States’ obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights includes areas of sexual and reproductive health and autonomy. Where access to safe and legal abortion services…
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It is now widely acknowledged that after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began a global detention and interrogation program through which it tortured and abused prisoners. Yet the US government has failed to hold…
Illustration of the scales of justice replaced by two people shackled by their wrists and dangling in the air.
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Kenya’s Lake Turkana is the largest desert lake in the world. Anthropologists consider it the cradle of civilization, where some of the earliest hominid fossils were found. Roughly 300,000 people live around Lake Turkana, and most…
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Beginning early on March 26, 2015, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition used warplanes to attack the forces of Ansar Allah, known as the Houthis, in several locations in Yemen. The coalition members include: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan,…
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This Q & A was first issued on August 4, 2014 and updated on October 3, 2014 to reflect new policy. On September 23, 2014, the United States government announced a new policy with a commitment not to use antipersonnel landmines outside of…
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On June 27, 2014, the United States government announced a new policy foreswearing future production or acquisition of antipersonnel landmines. It said the Defense Department will conduct a detailed study of alternatives to antipersonnel mines and the…
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Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies will soon make possible the development of fully autonomous weapons, which would revolutionize the way wars are fought. These weapons, unlike the current generation of armed drones, would be…
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Following the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush began a campaign of “targeted killings” against suspected members of al Qaeda and other armed groups. It has continued under the administration of President…
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Despite the regulations in Protocol III to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), incendiary weapons continue to cause needless and unacceptable suffering to civilians in conflicts around the world. These weapons produce conscience-shocking…
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Interoperability and the Prohibition on Assistance

Introduction The Convention on Cluster Munitions seeks to end the significant humanitarian harm cluster munitions pose to civilians. It prohibits the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions, as well as assistance with any of these…
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1.     What is female genital mutilation (FGM)? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or injury to the female genital organs for non-medical…
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Since the beginning of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza on January 3, 2009, there have been numerous media reports about the possible use by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of white phosphorus (WP), a chemical substance used in military ordnance that has…
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  1. What's going on in South Ossetia?  2. What's the background to the latest round of fighting?  3. Is this an internal or international armed conflict? What law governs it?  4. What is a lawful target under international humanitarian law?  5. What…
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What are 122mm rockets and how do they function? A 122mm rocket is an unguided surface-to-surface artillery rocket delivered by a multiple rocket launcher (MRL). Different 122mm rockets have ranges of four to forty kilometers. The rockets vary in length…