More than fifty people gathered in the Oak Room of the Mansion House, Dublin last week to discuss the challenges posed to international law by modern conflicts and groups such as Islamic State. The event co-hosted by the Irish Red Cross and the Irish Society of International Law brought together academics, defence forces personnel, NGO representatives and legal practitioners for a thought provoking discussion.
The event opened with a reminder from John Roche, Irish Red Cross, of the humanitarian consequences of war and the humanitarian crises currently unfolding in Syria, Iraq and neighbouring countries. Dr James Gallen, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University brought the audience through the legal considerations of the US-led airstrikes against Islamic State and the reactions of the international community.
This was followed by a thoughtful exploration of the social context in which Islamic State have emerged as an entity. Lt Col Richard Brennan, legal advisor with the Irish Defence Forces delivered a passionate exposition of the continued relevance and importance of international humanitarian law, even in the face of new groups and the ever evolving nature of conflict. Finally, Lt Col Mark Hearns, Irish Defence Forces provided an insight into the application of humanitarian law on the ground.
The panellists’ contributions were followed by a lively discussion with audience members during which issues of international law, the use of social media in conflict and other topical issues were teased out and explored further.??