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Suppressing Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Supporting Principled Humanitarian Action: A Provisional Framework for Analyzing State Practice


About this resource

Resource type:Research, reports and studies
Keywords:Access and Negotiation, Conflict, violence & peace, International law, Research methodology, Working in conflict setting
Countries:Iraq, Syria
Agency:Harvard University
Author(s):Burniske, J. and Lewis, D. A., with Modirzadeh, N. K.
Date published:October 2015

In 2014, reports suggested that a surge of foreign jihadists were participating in armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere. The United Nations Security Council responded by imposing in Resolution 2178 (2014) an array of obligations on member states to counter the threat posed by “foreign terrorist fighters” (FTFs). In the intervening year, those states have taken a range of actions—though at various speeds and with varying levels of commitment—to implement the FTF obligations imposed by the Council.

Meanwhile, many states continue to fund and otherwise throw their support behind life-saving humanitarian relief for civilians in armed conflicts around the world—including conflicts involving terrorists. Yet, in recent years, members of the humanitarian community have been increasingly aware of the real, perceived, and potential impacts of counterterrorism laws on humanitarian action. Part of their interest stems from the fact that certain counterterrorism laws may, intentionally or unintentionally, adversely affect principled humanitarian action, especially in regions where terrorist groups control territory (and thus access to civilians, too).

The aim of this report is twofold:


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