The day after the fall of Aleppo will International Humanitarian Law still be Relevant?
Aleppo University Faculty of Law, Aleppo, Syria
Contrary to most recent media reports, and frankly to this observer's surprise, forces defending both rebel controlled East Aleppo as well as government controlled West Aleppo during the unrelenting slaughter of this savage war, do sometimes appear restrained in their attacks.
This observer does occasionally sense some concern among belligerents for civilian casualties. But the few eye-witnessed cases of battlefield restraint pale when compared to the heavy and seemingly indiscriminate bombardment of civilian areas during which neither side appears hesitant when it comes to mass homicide.
Global demands to stop the bloodshed in Aleppo and across Syria have reached a crescendo unseen since the days of the 2003 U.S. non-UN sanctioned invasion of Iraq. UN Resolution 2139 recently demanded access to besieged areas in Syria and compliance with International Humanitarian Law including safe passage for civilians from conflict zones and the unimpeded passage for aid workers into those zones. These demands continue to be flagrantly ignored.
The United Nations humanitarian agency (OCHA) declared this week that eastern Aleppo now met all three criteria used to define an area as besieged in violation of International Humanity Law. The three criteria are military encirclement, lack of humanitarian access and the lack of free movement for civilians. East Aleppo becomes the 18th UN designated besieged area in Syria according to the U.N.