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Whitaker Ideas Forum: Shane Darcy, Collaborating with the Enemy During Armed Conflict—Does International Humanitarian Law Have a Blind Spot?

October 25, 2017 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: CA110 (SAC Room), Cairnes Building, NUI Galway Galway Ireland

Speaker(s): Shane D'Arcy

Affiliation: Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security Research Cluster

Organised by: Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, NUI Galway

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The 2017-18 Whitaker Ideas Forum series continues on 25 October with a seminar by Shane Darcy of the Conflict, Humanitarianism and Security research cluster on the topic of ‘Collaborating with the enemy during armed conflict—Does international humanitarian law have a blind spot?’

The use of informers and other collaborators by parties to an armed conflict has been a constant yet oftentimes concealed practice in wartime. Informers may provide valuable intelligence that assists with military and security operations, while various forms of collaboration–whether military, administrative or economic–can further a number of aims of parties to an armed conflict. Collaborators might be considered indispensable for the pursuit of certain wartime objectives, both lawful and otherwise.

Despite the prevalence of such activity during wartime, and the serious and at times fatal consequences that befall those who collaborate with an enemy, international law applicable in times of armed conflict does not squarely address the phenomenon. Informers and other collaborators do not feature amongst the categories of persons that international humanitarian law formally recognises during armed conflict, principally, combatants, civilians, prisoners of war, spies, and mercenaries. The recruitment, use, and treatment of informers and collaborators is addressed only indirectly by international humanitarian law.

This seminar will consider this potential blind spot of international humanitarian law when it comes to collaborating with an enemy and assess how recent developments in human rights law and the law of war crimes might be brought to bear in this context.


Iraqi interpreter