Future Battlefields: Evolving Challenges for Humanitarian Action

The nature of armed conflict over the past century and a half has undergone profound change, both in the way wars are fought and the impact they have on people. While International Humanitarian Law (IHL) has proven to be an adaptable legal framework for the protection of victims of armed conflict, it faces daunting challenges.
Modern conflicts are characterized by the convergence of complex and interlinked factors: from the fragmentation and proliferation of actors, to the privatization of warfare, the widespread availability of weapons, and high levels of criminal violence on top of armed conflict.
These dynamics have concerning humanitarian consequences and demand the attention of the international community. Urbanized conflict, with multiple support relationships between states and armed groups, is a key feature. The International Committee of the Red Cross has strived to keep watch over the challenges of tomorrow, but the global pandemic has brought a further layer of complexity to humanitarian action amid armed conflict.

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Building on Centennial Glories and Beginning a New Chapter at the Golden Jubilee

The speech by H.E. Ni Jian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, consists of three parts. Part one discusses the history and achievements of China and the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China during the last 100 years. Part two examines the accomplishments of the United Arab Emirates under its wise leadership over the past 50 years. Part three looks ahead to further development of relations, and the exchange of knowledge, between the two countries, which are both at a point of historical significance.

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Innovation in Higher Education

The lecture begins with an explanation of the concept of innovation from the perspective of several researchers and experts, before moving on to analyze innovation itself and its main components. The lecture will examine how innovation can be encouraged within higher education institutions, as well as the impact it might have on these institutions. The lecture will also focus on the experience of Hamdan bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) in fostering innovation and the most important lessons learnt from this experience. The lecture will end by explaining the Al Awar Index for Innovation in Higher Education, which determines and ranks the attitudes of higher education institutions toward innovation.

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US Elections and their Implications for the Middle East

The deep-rooted institutional system in the US generally means that when policies are drafted, they remain in place for decades to come, regardless of the political background of the president. However, a strong president can change a particular policy, as long as that change does not deviate from the framework of institutional policy. In other words, the policy is fixed, and the only variable is the nature of the strategies employed to deliver policy. A classic example is how both presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, handled the issue of Iran.

There is no doubt that there may be some change in US policy toward Iran, the Gulf countries and Turkey if the Democrats win the US Presidential elections. However, there will not be radical change; the US will continue its strategic relationships with Gulf countries. Obama’s soft policy toward Iran, which saw many concessions made, might see a comeback, albeit to a lesser degree than during the Obama presidency. As for tackling the Muslim Brotherhood group, Trump has not done much in this regard, and this trajectory will likely remain.

It is difficult to anticipate who will win the US Presidential elections, as the country is experiencing a sharp bipartisan and ideological divide. The Democrats’ problem is not Trump, but their own weak candidate. The winning presidential candidate will be determined by the swing states, which number no more than seven. Events could change the balance at any time. What is sure, when looking at elections historically, is that the outcome of the vote will be contested regardless of who wins, whether Trump or Biden.

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Sources of International Law: Scope and Application

The speaker said that the sources of international law, according to the traditional understanding, are limited to the list contained in the Statute of the International Court of Justice. However, rapid international developments, over the last few decades, required adding the resolutions of international organizations to this list. He added that the actual practice, at the level of international relations, experienced overlapping sources of international law. Thus, resolving many issues requires referring to most, if not all, of these sources. In addition, there are new cases that entail international organizations to issue resolutions rather than being restricted to the provisions of the international norms; they can be integrated into multilateral treaties, a process known as codification. The speaker also pointed out that developing an international law usually requires relying on the cooperation of a group of countries due to the absence of an effective central legislature. In the same context, the speaker added that developing the international law and drafting new sources for its system will continue to be a major challenge posed on the international community.

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The 2000 American Elections

The speaker analyzed the presidential, House, and New York Senate elections, offering a better understanding of the history, personalities, the process and the numbers behind these polls. The 2000 elections are particularly important. They will be a fierce competition for several reasons, notably the policies of President Bill Clinton, and the importance of US foreign policy, especially toward the Middle East. The House of Representatives is controlled by a Republican majority of 223 to 211. Thus, a swing of only a few seats could mean a Democratic majority. The questions are: Would voters bring a new president and a new House of Representatives? And what is the importance of the presidential election campaign for the competition for seats in the House of Representatives?

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Media, Internet and National Security

The lecture examined the salient characteristics of the new information age, particularly the Internet revolution, and their impact on modern nation states. Both the benefits and potential risks of these developments were explored, such as aspects relating to national security, fraud and censorship. The speaker concluded by discussing the expected changes in global communications and the experiences of other countries were commented upon, together with the appropriateness of current policy strategies for online communication.

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France’s Defence Policy in the Indian Ocean

The lecture focused on the principles governing France’s defence policy, in addition to defence strategy, military equipment and development. It addressed France’s defence policy in the Indian Ocean in terms of its dimensions and modes of implementation, and the usual movements of the French fleet. The French naval fleet’s peacekeeping efforts around Yemen’s Hanish Islands were cited as an example.

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The Strategic Importance of the Arabian Gulf Region and the Middle East

General McKenzie, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, will provide his strategic assessment of the importance of the Arabian Gulf Region and the Middle East. General McKenzie will analyze threats to regional stability, such as Iran’s destructive activities in the region, and the ongoing threats of extremism in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, as well as threats to the free flow of energy and commerce through the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. The presentation will offer insights into the continued U.S. commitment to regional stability and its partnership with key allies, such as the United Arab Emirates.

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Gulf Security and the UAE

The ECSSR concluded the lecture series held to mark the 25th year of the Federation with a lecture on the crucial strategic topic of Gulf security, which has both regional and international implications. The speaker presented legal and technical clarifications of some strategic security concepts and discussed the important strategic balance between the UAE and Iran, the UAE and the other GCC states, as well as the determinants involved in creating this balance.

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