Reports we Support

L'Osservatorio presents reports and other types of research studies produced by international organisations, NGOs, and research centres interested in issues concerning the protection of civilians in conflict, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding frameworks. The aim is to offer to the general public summarised versions and a synthesis of these reports and research materials, thus makeing highly technical documents accessible to everyone.

 In November 2018, The Peace Research Partnership (PRP) discussed challenges related to gender mainstreaming in research within conflict settings.



PRP, comprised of Saferworld, International Alert, Conciliation Resources, and UK Aid,  is a programme aimed at conducting research on “inclusive economic development, peace processes and institutions, and on identifying how gender dynamics can drive conflict or peace” in conflict-affected regions. The coalition conducted six case studies and workshops in November 2018 in London.  In 2019, as a result of the case studies and in order to provide background to the issues discussed in the workshops, analyses on the primary challenges to gender mainstreaming, ethics, safeguarding, and recommendations, the final report was written.


The PRP’s report defines gender as the ways in which people are socially, culturally, and historically categorised as ‘female’ and ‘male’, including the effect this classification has on their everyday lives. Most often gender is aligned with biological sex assigned to the person at birth, varies across different cultures and may be subject to change over time. The concept of gender is also seen to examine the relations between male and female-identifying persons. The relations influence how the two are organised, as well as how power and resources are distributed. Notably, the meaning of gender can change before and after conflict. 


Gender mainstreaming is “a process to ensure that women’s and men’s (or boys’ and girls’) and those with other gender identities’ concerns and experiences are integral to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all legislation, policies, and programmes.” There are two gender mainstreaming approaches: the integrationist and the transformationalist. The former emphasizes the value of integrating gender into research whereas the transformationalist approach focuses on the transformational effect a gender mainstreaming approach may have on organisations, policies and practices. It also champions gender equality and aims to change power relations between genders. 


As a result of the two-day workshop, the organizations found that representation and gender balance in research teams, as well as gender expertise (gender advisers), are important to ensure intersectional gender mainstreaming in research. Additionally, the coalition recommended that researchers strive for equal and mutually beneficial partnerships whereas consultancies should put more emphasis on transformationalist gender mainstreaming. The research design must ensure the widest possible reach and variety of voices.


Additionally, the coalition examined their ethics of research, and developed “principles grounded in securing informed consent and the baseline principle of ‘do not harm.’” Ethics of research emphasizes the importance of providing training for staff and understanding the risks of research, as well as ensuring confidentiality and support for research participants. In contrast, the prevention of risks researchers pose to others in their practices, such as sexual exploitation and re-traumatisation, is covered by the concept of safeguarding and involves individual researchers and participants.


Another finding emerging from the report is “research fatigue”, a concept experienced by many research participants. More specifically, the participants may feel they are being over-researched and caught up in the constant flow of questions yet, they do not benefit from the research and no visible results are being achieved. In order to prevent this, it is crucial that research teams conduct background studies to determine whether they are likely to bring more benefit than harm. Additionally, researchers must receive extensive research training to prevent misconduct, learning to build ethical and safeguarding views into their research. Lastly, researchers and organizations must always reflect on the purposes of their research: determine who benefits from the knowledge created through research and if it is the people who are directly affected by the issues being studied.

To read the full report, please visit:


Author: Giulia DeLuca; Editor: Aleksandra Król

A presentation of “Complicated Delivery: The Yemeni mothers and children dying without medical care” written by Medecins sans Frontières (MSF) offers an insight into healthcare inaccessibility in Yemen.


From November 2018 to February 2019, MSF collected data by using health indicators from 2016-2018 MSF medical reports. They also conducted ten semi-structured interviews with patients, caretakers, and medical facility staff in MSF’s Taiz Houban Mother and Child Hospital and MSF supported hospital in Abs Hajjah. Although the findings of the report are not representative of the entire country, but its recommendations are applicable nationwide.

The war in Yemen escalated in 2014 when the Houthis Shia rebel group took control of the capital, Sanaa, forcing President Hadi into exile. In order to restore public order and bring the power back to the government, in March 2015, the Saudi and Emirati Coalition (SELC), backed by the US, UK, and France, began aerial strikes on the Houthis. This intervention resulted in increased violence which has made the poorest country in the Middle East even more fragile.

“[B]etween 2016 and 2018, there were 860 deaths of reported in Taiz Houban – 17 mothers, 242 children and 601 newborns. Of these deaths, 227 were children and newborns who were dead on arrival,” with the number increasing every year. As of March 2019, no public hospital in the Taiz governorate has been fully functioning, however, with the support of MSF and other international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), three of the five hospitals in Taiz city centre remain partially open. In the Hajjah governorate, mothers have to travel long distances to receive care, which is worsened by the mountainous character of the terrain surrounding the district of Abs.  As MSF’s Taiz Houban hospital manager describes, sometimes patients cannot travel because of violence and “women are waiting until the last minute to make the dangerous journey to receive care,”. Medical complications during pregnancy become very deadly and infants need high-level newborn care. In Abs Hajjah, “the facility recorded the deaths of 705 people – 19 mothers, 269 children and 417 newborns. Among the 417 neonates, 106 died on the day of arrival between 2016 and 2018.”

Additionally, economic vulnerability leads to high mortality rates and limits the freedom to choose medical facilities. In Yemen, purchasing power is 148 percent lower than in pre-crisis period and although private healthcare was not free and sometimes unavailable in rural areas , it was affordable for many people with regards to transport and financial means. Separately, while public workers have received partial or no salaries since August 2016, payments resumed in 2018 if workers were employed under an internationally recognized government.Currently, because most medical facilities remain private, with high costs of treatment,  most patients choose free MSF facilities which are not always accessible to civilians living in rural areas or on the frontlines.  

Traveling to medical facilities is dangerous, especially for those crossing the frontlines. There is often a lot of violence and tension at the checkpoints controlled by different warring parties. Eftekar, a patient from Ibb governorate recalls: “The road from home to the hospital is not safe. In the past, we can take pregnant women to the hospitals at night but now we cannot... there is a risk we will be shot. Movements are allowed only from 6 am to 6 pm.”

MSF arrived at five recommendations that all actors should follow in order to save lives and so that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is not violated:

  1. All parties in conflict must cease attacks on medical facilities and respect the protected status of civilians, and medical and humanitarian staff.
  2. There must be a clearer and faster way for humanitarian staff to enter Yemen.
  3. Humanitarian organizations should increase efforts to ensure that staff is specialized and experienced in order to provide quality and timely care.
  4. The bureaucracy should not impede upon the transport of lifesaving drugs and devices. 
  5. Access to humanitarian services in rural and district-level areas.

To learn more, visit:


Author: Giulia DeLuca; Editor: Aleksandra Krol


Geneva Call is a neutral and impartial humanitarian organization aiming at promoting respect, by Armed Non-State Actors (ANSAs), for international humanitarian norms, thereby enhancing their compliance with their obligations under international law.  

In September 2018, Geneva Call issued a Report based upon the second edition of the Garance Talks. The meeting was held in 2017 and brought together ANSAs and experts from academia and various NGOs, to discuss the current challenges faced by ANSAs in the administration of justice. The core sessions of the 2017 Garance Talks addressed three related issues: i) the legal basis for the establishment of courts and judicial processes by ANSAs and in territories controlled by them; ii) deprivation of liberty by ANSAs, including the treatment of detainees; and iii) the procedural safeguards, rights and protection of detainees.

The administration of justice by armed groups is a frequent feature in armed conflicts. Practice shows that ANSAs often try their own forces, enemies and civilians. Obviously, the condition is that, when exercising this prerogative, they respect certain judicial guarantees. Notwithstanding this practice, however,  the legal basis for the establishment of such judicial mechanisms still remains unclear.

Common Article 3 to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 (CA3), which applies to non-international armed conflicts (NIACs), affirms that the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgements pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people is prohibited with respect to persons taking no active part in hostilities. Additional Protocol II of 1977 (APII) then develops and supplements CA3, by establishing certain fundamental fair trial guarantees, such as the obligation to inform without delay, the principle of the individual criminal responsibility, the principle of legality, the presumption of innocence and privilege against self-incrimination.

Within this legal framework, some have interpreted the concept of “regularly constituted court” as only referring to a judicial mechanism established in accordance with the constitutional laws of the State. Accepting this interpretation would, however, mean recognizing that IHL does not allow armed groups to set up a parallel judicial system, completely separate from that of the State, with all the limitations that this view would bring (for instance, conflicts only fought between NSAGs would not be covered).

In this respect, the present Report proposes an alternative reading, based on the principle of equality of belligerents. According to this view, while the administration of justice is a governmental function par excellence, it is contended that, in the context of NIAC, international humanitarian law (IHL) creates equal obligations upon States and ANSAs. It follows that armed groups, like State actors, are granted the possibility to install judicial mechanisms based on their own regulations.

Unfortunately, the position just advanced raises some problematic scenarios. Many of these ANSAs, in particular those with a lower level of organization, have less potential to guarantee an administration of justice in accordance with international standards. Some authors have explained that this is due to the fact that they devote a large amount of their resources to their military, but it could also come as a consequence of their lack of knowledge of these safeguards. Moreover, according to their level of organization, ANSAs might not have a proper civil authority to ensure due processes or specific agencies prepared to carry out law enforcement operations.

Some conclusions can be drawn from the 2017 Garance Talks: first, when an ANSA does not have the capacity to respect the above mentioned safeguards, it shall not carry out judicial processes and alternative mechanisms should be sought; second, when the structure of the group varies and it is not stable, it will only carry out judicial processes as long as it has the capacity to do so; third, when the group has the capacity to carry out judicial processes in accordance with those fair trial guarantees recognized by international law, then everything feasible shall be done to respect them in full.




Report available at:

To read more:

5 November 2018

This article presents the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), produced in August 2018, which reflects on the first ten years of the “Convention of Cluster Munitions”.

The Convention was adopted in 2008 to address the issue of death, injury and suffering caused by cluster munitions. In 2015, the Dubrovnik Action Plan followed to supplement the Convention.

To date, these treaties have achieved several notable objectives: 103 States are parties to the Convention and a further 17 are signatories, 18 States have stopped manufacture, and approximately 1.5 million weapons and over 175 million sub-munitions were destroyed. There have been no reports of alleged use of cluster munitions by State Parties, nor of new productions or export. Moreover, the Convention requires State Parties to provide for stockpile destruction within eight years of signature (except for those States who were granted extension until 2024) and clearance of cluster munition remnants within ten years. Stockpile destruction has achieved a success rate of 98%, and over 400 square kilometres of contaminated land have been cleared.  

Furthermore, the treaty calls for State Parties to provide assistance in the form of medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, and socio-economic inclusion in areas under their jurisdiction. This assistance must not be discriminatory, and take consideration of age and gender requirement. At present, most States have implemented casualty data-collection and needs assessments, and granted national disability or assistance action plans. The treaty provides that assistance can be provided by States with more resources.

The Plan aims to strengthen the power of the Convention, and to further encourage State Parties to promote its universalization. This aim is to be achieved through enhanced cooperation, promoting model legislation, supporting the ratification process of new signatories, and advocating subscription to non-party States. The Plan also commits State Parties to assist partners in strengthening national capacity, improving the quality and quantity of victim assistance, and increasing the victim’s role in policy- and decision-making, through enhanced cooperation bilaterally or through regional or international organisations. To this end, States shall designate within their governments focal points for assistance, in the form of money, equipment, expertise, experience and human resources.

However, the Convention still faces many challenges: 77 States are non-parties, 16 of which are capable of, or currently are, carrying out production of cluster munitions. Four States: Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia and Iraq, are still heavily contaminated by cluster munition remnants. Since 2010, nine States have recorded use of cluster munitions within their borders. The use of cluster munitions had a disproportionate impact of civilians: 90% of casualties are civilian, 40% of which are children. Assistance to victims is often hampered by residence in conflict zones, or remote or rural areas, and has been negatively impacted by a decrease in funding and resources in recent years.

Full implementation of the Dubrovnik Action Plan’s commitments would achieve fewer victims, better quality of life in affected-areas, and compliance with stockpile destruction and clearance requirements. The ICRC suggests that one way to help reaching the objective of the Convention, despite current challenges, is for State Parties to redouble their efforts and foster increased cooperation and assistance. This goal can be accomplished by providing detailed information about their progress, the presence of any obstacles encountered and/or any request of specific assistance.


Original report available here:

25 November 2018

This is a presentation of “Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar,” released by the UN Security Council on 29 October 2018.

The United Nations Secretary-General released a report detailing human rights violations in Myanmar against children that occured between 1 July 2017 and 31 August 2018. This report is the fifth of its kind that has been submitted to the Security Council’s Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict, with the last report being submitted in December 2017. The report was conducted using research on political and security developments in Myanmar and interviews with refugees from Myanmar in Bangladesh. These interviews were verified according to UN verification standards. Through this report, the Secretary-General is able to spread awareness of the grave violations of child rights occuring in Myanmar and provide recommendations for the consideration of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

The report focuses mainly on violations occurring in northern Rakhine State, an area of Myanmar bordering Bangladesh with a large population of Rohingya people, a Muslim minority. On 25 August 2017, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked Myanmar police posts and an army base, resulting in a swift response from the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw). This response resulted in attacks which continued for several months and destroyed Rohingya villages. By the end of August 2018, approximately 706,000 civilians left Myanmar and fled to Bangladesh, 90% of whom were Rohingya. Additionally, the government of Myanmar implemented movement restrictions on Muslims from villages and towns in central Rakhine.

In the reporting period (1 July 2017 - 31 August 2018), the UN documented 1,166 grave violations against children in the Rakhine State townships Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung. The report was framed through analysing the occurrence of the “six grave violations” of child rights in Myanmar. These are defined by the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict as the killing and maiming of children, sexual violence against children, recruitment or use of children as soldiers, abduction of children, attacks against schools or hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access for children.

Organized and systematic attacks against Rohingya civilians orchestrated by the Government resulted in the killing and maiming of children. Across 28 villages in the townships listed above, 220 child casualties were verified. Government forces, including border guard police and special forces, were found responsible for all of these verified cases. On 27 August 2017, several witnesses stated that Tatmadaw soldiers took men and boys from their homes in Buthidaung Township, forced them to lay on the group with their hands tied, and killed them one by one. The UN verified accounts of children being shot at while fleeing violence and attacks as well.

The Tatmadaw was also found responsible for raping and sexually assaulting girls and women in eight verified cases and two highly credible cases. The youngest girl reported to be a victim of sexual violence was 10 years old. One woman reported that her 14-year-old daughter was gang-raped by two Tatmadaw soldiers, while 10 or more other soldiers watched for approximately four hours. Her daughter was then shot in front of her.

According to the report, there were 53 verified cases of the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, with most cases being attributed to the border guard police and the Tatmadaw. The border guard police forced 47 boys, aged 10 to 17, to complete border guard police camp tasks including construction, maintenance, cooking, and cleaning. In some cases, boys were threatened, humiliated, fined, and forced to work all night. In Buthidaung Township, the UN verified the use of boys, aged 10 to 18, to move military equipment during operations.

In regards to the remaining grave violations - abduction of children, attacks against schools or hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access for children - the UN verified 11 attacks on schools by the Tatmadaw, documented widespread disappearance of children and abduction of girls by armed forces, and reported the systematic denial of humanitarian access and aid in northern Rakhine after 25 August 2017.

It is important to note that the report also includes instances of non-Rohingya children being impacted, as well as violations being attributed to non-government forces. For example, a highly credible report found the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army responsible for the death of 99 Hindus, including children.

In light of the findings of the report, the UN Special Representative urges the Government of Myanmar to allow humanitarian actors and a country task force unimpeded access to conflict-affected areas. Additionally, the Government is requested to undertake a credible investigation for the presence and accountability of all six grave violations. The Special Representative also urges armed groups to halt the recruitment of children and to ensure accountability of non-State armed groups who have carried out grave violations of child rights.


Original report available here:

18 October, 2018

The report, The Role of Victims in Criminal Proceedings, provides extensive information regarding the active participation of victims through the aid of the Specialized Criminal Chambers (SCCs) which has been put in place for the adjudication of cases involving human rights violations.

In the report, The Role of Victims in Criminal Proceedings, the main focus lies in protecting the rights of the victim as much as the defendant. Rather than simply providing the victim protection, the process of criminal justice proceedings and the provision of reparations also play a restorative role for victims while potentially leading to more successful convictions. The benefits of allowing the victim to participate as a civil party, rather than exclusively as a witness, include their initiation of prosecutions, ability to claim reparations for trauma related to their case, and the direct involvement in proceedings that may lead to a more effective trial.

In order to gain each of these rights of participation, certain victims are selected based upon the contents within their applications. A judge must decide whether the individual is a victim based on two factors: whether there was physical, mental, or emotional harm caused to them personally, and whether that harm was linked directly to the crime committed. This can include harm directly done to them, harm done to a close relative, or whether they were harmed while attempting to prevent the crime from occuring. Once a victim is granted the opportunity to participate, some activities they are permitted to participate in include: presenting and requesting evidence, calling expert witnesses, challenging and appealing court’s decisions, and presenting their views on the charges being brought against the defendant.

The report details specific locations that have taken the initiative in allowing victims to achieve more privileges in court. The International Criminal Court set the precedent for other courts to allow victims have more participation opportunities during proceedings pertaining to their case. For example, the Extraordinary Courts in the Chambers of Cambodia was the first court to allow victims to take on the role of civil parties during trials. This role allows the victims to directly support the prosecution during proceedings and the opportunity to gain moral and collective reparations. The Kosovo Special Chambers and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon have also created statues that expand on the protection of the victims and their rights to participate in proceedings. Examples of these protective and participatory rights include: the creation of a unit within the Registry responsible for protection and participation assistance of the victims, the right to be notified, acknowledge, and reparated, and the right to be represented in the pretrial and trial proceedings if it is not prejudicial to the rights of the accused. These statues emphasis the victim’s rights to be treated with dignity and respect, an effective remedy and fair trial, protection and assistance, reparation, and truth.

The participation of victims during trials can directly result in more successful convictions as well as allowing the victims to achieve reparations and emotional restoration for the harm caused to them during the crime.  


To know more, please read:

Page 4 of 6