The publications listed here represent a small selection of the work of GCILS staff members. To see full listings of publications please click through to the University of Glasgow main webpages in each individual staff member profile.

Read the room: legal and emotional literacy in frontline humanitarian negotiations

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This chapter engages with law and emotions in frontline humanitarian negotiations with armed groups, illustrating how international humanitarian law (IHL) functions in the hands of different actors. Drawing on fieldwork from the Central African Republic and Southeast Asia, as well as practitioner-oriented negotiations literature, the chapter explores the legal and emotional literacy of humanitarian negotiators. Showcasing (and critiquing) the objective/subjective divide that pervades the literature, the discussion takes law and emotions in turn. The first part establishes that law is treated mainly as a tool, yet few clues are given as to how and why law might be deployed. A tension also materialises around whether IHL is itself ‘negotiable’, leaving humanitarian negotiators to navigate this conundrum—and law’s indeterminacy more generally—with little guidance. The second part demonstrates that emotions are overlooked and misunderstood in the literature. Emotions are presented as reason’s opposite, making it easy to side-line them and to call for their suppression. The thin and largely ambivalent treatment of emotions is of little help to humanitarian negotiators who, in practice, must contend with emotions at every turn. The central claim advanced is that, even as the legal and affective dimensions of humanitarian negotiations remain undertheorised, a heavy burden is imposed on humanitarians to discern what each negotiation encounter demands of law and of human feelings. This matters for IHL and it also has material consequences: those humanitarian negotiators who are unable to ‘read the room’ may find their attempts to persuade armed groups thwarted.

In: Krieger, H., Kalmanovitz, P., Lieblich, E. and Mignot-Mahdavi, R. (eds.) Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, Volume 24 (2021). T.M.C. Asser Press: The Hague, pp. 103-139

The UN General Assembly as a security actor: appraising the investigative mechanism for Syria

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This article analyses the role of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as a security actor. With the creation of the ‘International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011’ (IIIM), through UNGA Resolution 71/ 2481 in 2016, the General Assembly creatively used its powers to strengthen international criminal justice. Although investigative or fact-finding missions itself are nothing new to the UN system, Resolution 71/ 248 is qualitatively different to any other mission before it. The IIIM was established without Syrian consent, which is a historic first for the General Assembly. It is also the first time that such a body is tasked with investigations that fulfil prosecution standards, that serves as an evidence repository as well as a connecting hub between different justice actors. The UN General Assembly filled a void where the UN Security Council found itself in a stalemate over Syria. The IIIM has since served as a blueprint for a new generation of investigative mechanisms that emerged in the UN system. Looking beyond the appraisal of the IIIM, the article argues that the UN General Assembly practice in maintaining peace and security has significantly evolved over time. The early UN General Assembly practice through Uniting for Peace allowed it to assert its proactive role in parallel to the Security Council, yet it failed in its claim of authority to recommend forceful, collective measures. The practice subsequently evolved towards the diverse use of non-forceful measures, of which the IIIM provides a recent example. Creative boundary pushing in the UNGA through non-forcible measures will hopefully contribute to peace and security beyond war.

Empathy in frontline humanitarian negotiations: a relational approach to engagement. Journal of International Humanitarian Action

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Humanitarian access—people’s ability to reach aid and aid's ability to reach people—is widely understood to be a central challenge in humanitarian action. One of the most important ways in which humanitarian access is practically secured in conflict settings is through frontline humanitarian negotiations. In this type of negotiation, humanitarians engage in face-to-face interactions with conflict parties to secure safe access to, and protection of, civilian populations in situations of armed conflict. An underdeveloped aspect of such negotiations that is ripe for further exploration is the role of empathy. The purpose of this article is thus to draw on the insights of the empathy literature to explore how empathy shapes humanitarian protection work in the specific domain of frontline humanitarian negotiations. Part one conceptualizes empathy, drawing on the interdisciplinary field of scientific research. Part two introduces the practice of frontline humanitarian negotiation and explains why empathy is critical, particularly in the increasingly fragmented environments that negotiators must operate. Adopting a relational approach, Part three advances a framework for analyzing empathy in frontline humanitarian negotiations. We theorize empathy's salience across four different axes of negotiation, drawing insights gleaned from scholarship and a systematic review of the grey literature on humanitarian negotiation, including field manuals, training materials, and operational guidance. We do not ultimately argue for ‘more empathy’ in this type of work, but rather a more thoughtful approach to empathy—one that entails the cultivation of core empathy-related skill areas, including: emotion regulation, perspective-taking, social awareness, and strategic conveyance of empathy. We contend that this approach could help to alleviate numerous problems in the humanitarian sector, including aid worker burnout.

Emily Paddon Rhoads

International Inspections

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International inspections are a common technique of international law. Inspectors visit prison camps, chemical factories, nuclear reactors, and research stations in Antarctica — to assess whether the provisions of international law are complied with. But notwithstanding this practical relevance, international lawyers have tended to neglect international inspections, at least as a general category: what studies exist, tend to focus on particular regimes, providing much detail but insufficient orientation. The present volume takes a different approach. It looks at a wide range of inspection regimes and seeks to identify cross-cutting issues. While reflecting their heterogeneity, its central aim is to situate international inspections in the wider field of international law’s means of control and to highlight elements of unity in diversity. Combining panoramic and kaleidoscopic perspectives, the volume’s sixteen chapters encourage international lawyers to engage more fully with international inspections.

Anne-Laure Chaumette

Research Handbook on Secession

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Combining both theoretical and practical insights, the Research Handbook on Secession addresses a wide range of legal issues and concepts surrounding secessions. It considers both well-known examples such as Kosovo and Bangladesh alongside less frequently discussed cases including Somaliland and Palestine. The Research Handbook offers state-of-the-art analysis of international law on – among other topics – statehood, secession, self-determination, as well as comparative constitutional perspectives.

Vidmar, J.
McGibbon,S.

Implications of the reciprocal effect of the relationship between climate change and armed conflict on the rules of IHL

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Selected as second-best paper in the Fifth International Committee of the Red Cross Research Competition on "Climate Change, Environment, and Armed Conflict".