29 October 2019

Liam Walpole, Policy Manager at the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Warfare Programme, spoke at a seminar organised by the NATO Centre of Excellence on Security Force Assistance, based in Rome, on 23 October. The topic of the discussion was: "Rule of Law for Security Force Assistance Activities in Crisis Zones".

The event focused on the main legal and practical challenges associated with military operations that centre around building the capacity of local forces, covering topics such as human rights, international humanitarian law, anti-corruption policy, protection of civilians, reintegration of former combatants as part of training local security forces and their associated institutions.

Liam was joined by representatives from the UN, The International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Italian Military Police, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and Chatham House, examining the operational challenges of working through local forces in a way that is compliant with international law and proactively works to avoid civilian harm.

His presentation examined the practical challenges of protecting civilians during partnered operations, drawing insights from a recent briefing he wrote with his colleague, Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen, on the experiences of the Western militaries' effectiveness at avoiding civilian harm as part of the counter-IS campaign in Iraq and Syria, between 2014 and 2018. 

Employing effective safeguards as part of British partnered operations is an ongoing area of study for ORG and will be the focus of an upcoming report that will be published in January 2019.