The recent Parsons Green terrorist attack is just the latest in a number of serious incidents in the UK and Europe this year but – while these attacks have certainly been grave – they do also offer insight that tighter restrictions on explosive materials can be successful in limiting the options available to perpetrators.
The IED planted at Parsons Green appears, according to Ben Wallace MP, to have been homemade using an explosive such as Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) as its base. TATP can be an effective high explosive having been used extensively by terrorists including in the Manchester and Barcelona bombings earlier this year.… Seguir leyendo »
The UK actively promotes gender equality both at home and abroad but it falls short of defining itself by a feminist agenda. At a time when it is not clear what does define UK foreign policy, other than the looming exit from the EU, promoting a feminist foreign policy could be an opportunity for the UK to provide leadership and to promote its human-rights based values abroad at a time when both are being challenged on the world stage.
Gender equality features prominently in some parts of UK foreign policy. The International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014 for example, promotes gender equality when providing development and humanitarian assistance to countries outside of the UK.… Seguir leyendo »
The recent global ransomware attack, which affected organizations around the world including Britain’s National Health Service, was the first real illustration for many people of the scale and physical consequences a cyber attack might present. Criminal hackers exploited a flaw in ‘retired’ Microsoft software, which is not routinely updated and patched for security, to infect computers with the WannaCry ransomware.
But what if devices were even more vulnerable, running with no built-in security and no opportunity to patch? This is the problem that that the so-called internet of things (IOT) presents. With an anticipated 22.5 billion devices due to be connected to the internet by 2021, the opportunity for holding these devices to ransom will present significant opportunities to criminals and will have serious consequences for providers and users of these devices.… Seguir leyendo »
Mine clearance operators entering Mosul and the surrounding areas as ISIS have been driven out have found huge swathes of territory littered with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), particularly improvised mines.
The humanitarian mine action charity Mines Advisory Group (MAG) report these improvised mines to be powerful enough to disable a tank but sensitive enough to be activated by a child. MAG alone has reported clearance of over 11,000 newly laid mines in Iraq and Syria since September 2015, and ISIS is reportedly making IEDs on a ‘quasi-industrial scale’.(opens in new window)
For civilians wishing to return to their homes these mines present a major impediment and will be a significant bar to progress long after the fighting stops.… Seguir leyendo »
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty, the common name for the convention that prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. Since the treaty was concluded it has garnered the support of 162 state parties and some 47 million anti-personnel landmines have been removed from arsenals and destroyed. While there are a number of factors that have contributed to this success, the treaty’s strong ban on use and the resulting international pressure were undoubtedly instrumental to this considerable reduction.
The success of this treaty however is threatening to be overshadowed by the failure of governments to both respect and enforce similar obligations set out in international law, and to insist on further restrictions where certain weapons are having a disproportionate and lasting impact on the lives of civilians.… Seguir leyendo »
The UK has pledged to send a further 100 troops to South Sudan as part of the UN’s peacekeeping mission there, increasing its total contribution to 400. This will likely have little benefit for the South Sudanese caught up in the conflict but may have significant implications for the UK military. Contributing further to what some would consider an already failing mission will make the UK military complicit in that failure − it needs to consider the reputational damage increased deployment of troops may bring and the positive influence it could instead exert on these missions.
The decision by the UN to increase the total number of peacekeeping troops to 17,000 following a recent spike in violence in South Sudan seems to be premised on a flawed idea that more peacekeepers will bring more peace.… Seguir leyendo »
Prime Minister David Cameron announced at the recent NATO summit in Warsaw that the ban on women serving in ground close combat roles in the British armed forces is to be lifted. The announcement follows a recommendation from Chief of the General Staff General Sir Nick Carter and extensive research into the physiological risks to women serving in such roles, and brings the UK in line with its major allies.
While the decision is a welcome one, it marks the beginning of what will need to be a well-managed process to ensure that the integration of women into ground close combat roles is a success.… Seguir leyendo »
Canada has recently appointed their first female general from the combat arms trade. The UK meanwhile is yet to take the decision to allow women to serve in ground close combat roles, and while a decision is expected in 2016, it is still yet to actually be made. When that decision is finally taken, it will mark an important milestone for the British army, as it continues to adjust to meet both the operational requirements of today and the values and expectations of the society it serves.
There are clear advantages to broadening the recruitment pool, as without a diverse pool of talent from which to draw, the army risks being hampered by how effectively it can engage and operate at all levels.… Seguir leyendo »
This month, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights revealed the massive scale of abuse against civilians in South Sudan last year. Its report is unflinching in describing rape, killing and torture – all part of what it calls a ‘scorched earth policy’ against civilians by government forces. Quite rightly, it suggests mechanisms that should be instigated to hold perpetrators of these crimes to account. However, the report fails to raise questions about the UN’s own accountability in situations such as these.
The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is made up of 12,500 peacekeepers under a Chapter VII mandate to protect civilians.… Seguir leyendo »