FOCUS on the Laws of War: The Geneva Conventions

War, like any other human endeavor throughout history, has historically had rules. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the actions of its soldiers in alleged incidents, such as in the suburb of Bucha the capital of Kyiv, have led members of the international community to accuse the Russian government of war crimes. The modern outlook on what constitutes a war crime can be traced far back, most notably to 20th-century agreements like the Geneva Conventions.

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Russia Accused of Atrocities as Massacre Continues in Ukraine

On April 3,  Ukraine accused Russia of committing a massacre of the Ukrainian people located in Bucha, a city located north of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. The accusations arose following Russia’s retreat from Kyiv. Numerous images and videos being circulated show the violence Russian soldiers inflicted upon the Ukrainian citizens. Images show numerous atrocities, such as a picture of at least twenty male corpses, lining a singular street in Bucha.

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FOCUS on the Laws of War: Treatment of Civilians and POWs

Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, information has come out pointing to incidents that could be considered violations of civilian and prisoner of war (POW) rights in many areas of the country. Many experts believe that the actions of the Russian Federation could violate the protection of civilians and POWs during wartime under the Geneva Convention of 1949, Protocol 1, and the Hague Convention of 1907, which Russia is party to, according to Human Rights Watch.

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El Salvador Declares State of Emergency over Soaring Homicide Rates

Homicide rates soared in El Salvador during the last weekend of March, with the country reporting 89 homicide deaths in a period of four days compared to 79 homicide deaths in the entire month of February, says NBC News. Friday saw 14 homicides and Saturday saw 62 more, reports The Washington Post. This sparked President Nayib Bukele to declare a 30-day state of emergency, which began early morning on Sunday March 27.

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Colombia Decriminalizes Abortion, Highlighting a Departure from Stigma

On February 21, 2022, Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled 5-4 to decriminalize abortions, making the procedure legal up to 24 weeks of gestation, reports The Guardian. The historic ruling will change the lives of women and young girls who often resorted to clandestine abortions and were penalized under the healthcare system, says Al Jazeera. Many pro-choice individuals and feminists in Colombia welcomed the decision as a reaffirmation of women’s bodily autonomy, hoping the ruling will inspire other countries to push for legislation protecting women’s rights. 

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Is Israel Being Unfairly Targeted by the UN Human Rights Council?

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) recently created a special commission of inquiry to investigate allegations of crimes of apartheid committed by the Israeli government against Palestinians. The fact-finding mission is being used to respond to allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law by Israel, according to the UNHRC.

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Numerous proposed bills across US limiting LGBT rights for minors

On March 8, Florida’s legislature passed a bill banning the discussion of sexual orientation and gender expression in elementary school classrooms. According to The Associated Press, Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law. If he does so, the legislation will go into effect on July 1, per ABC News. While the bill is officially titled “The Parental Rights in Education” bill, LGBT activists are calling it the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, as, according to ABC News, they fear “it could act as a complete ban on the lessons on LGBTQ oppression, history and discussions about LGBTQ identities.”

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New Abortion Laws in Texas Place the United States at a Moral Crossroad

Texas’ new abortion laws, which ban abortions six weeks post-conception with no exceptions for rape or incest, were signed into effect by Governor Greg Abbott on September 1, 2021. The laws are setting a dangerous precedent in the U.S., causing other states like Florida to propose increasingly restrictive laws. Meanwhile, Mexico’s laws are prohibiting judges from charging women who receive abortions, even in regions where abortion has not yet been decriminalized. The contrasting approach toward abortion between Mexico and Texas shows a dangerous trend that could lead the U.S. down a rabbit hole of restricting reproductive rights.

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Turkish President Erdogan Expels Ten Ambassadors for Backing Jailed Philanthropist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared ten ambassadors “persona non grata” after they advocated for the release of a jailed philanthropist, reports The New York Times. Businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala has been in jail in Turkey since 2017, despite having never been convicted of a crime.

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FOCUS on Frozen Conflicts: Israel-Palestine

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict made recent headlines in May after Israeli forces launched devastating airstrikes on Gaza. This latest Gaza war was sparked after Israeli Defense Forces raided one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Al Aqsa Mosque, during the holy month of Ramadan. Israeli forces dispersed worshippers with flashbangs and rubber bullets, wounding nearly 300 people, reports The Guardian.

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