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Fifth Avril McDonald Lecture by Katharine Fortin, Assistant Professor Human Rights Law, Utrecht University

When:Th 14-03-2019 16:00 - 18:00
Where:Marie Lokezaal Harmonie Building, Oude Kijk in 't Jatstraat 26, Groningen
Dr Katharine Fortin
Dr Katharine Fortin

This year’s topic will be 'Hatches, matches and dispatches: legal identity in rebel-held territory'. Dr Katharine Fortin is an Assistant Professor in Human Rights Law and Public International Law at the Utrecht University.

Reports indicate that there are currently more than 100,000 so-called Islamic State (IS) families trapped in IDP camps in Iraq, unable to go home due to their association with the armed group. Studies show that many such families are now living in IDP camps without one or more of their civil documents: passports, birth, marriage or death certificates. Any civil documentation issued by the Islamic State has been declared invalid by the Iraqi government. In many instances, families that had Islamic State documentation have destroyed it fearing that it will be taken as evidence of affiliation with the group. Civil documentation was also routinely destroyed by both the Islamic State and anti-Islamic forces.


This lecture explores the notion of legal identity for individuals living in territory under armed group control. It considers how individual’s legal identity is constructed and protected in rebel territory, and considers how the question of legal identity might affect individuals’ protections under both international humanitarian law and international criminal law. It also considers whether – and in what circumstances – States might have an obligation to recognize civil documentation issued by armed groups.

The yearly Avril McDonald lecture will be organized by International Humanitarian Law students in collaboration with the Department Transboundary Legal Studies of the Faculty of Law. This lecture is dedicated to Avril McDonald, a scholar in the fields of international humanitarian law and international criminal law, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 44.

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