Roots of Restraint in War

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The lack of respect of the Laws of Armed Conflict (LoAC), also known as International Humanitarian Law (IHL), by numerous parties in today’s conflicts - whether by state or non-state actors - along with the proliferation of decentralized non-state armed groups, necessitate a better understanding of how combatants can be influenced to respect the norms of LoAC. The ICRC is the leading global organisation advocating for respect of and adherence to these norms.

RUSI is therefore delighted to partner with the ICRC to discuss the Roots of Restraint in War. The report is the culmination of a two-year research programme. It recommends ways to influence the behaviour of combatants soldiers and militias to prevent them from committing atrocities.

Join RUSI Director-General Dr Karin von Hippel as she facilitates the discussion on the findings and recommendations of this landmark study with ICRC's Vice President, Professor Gilles Carbonnier and Dr David Whetham. Ahead of the discussion, principal investigators and authors, Dr Fiona Terry and Dr Brian McQuinn, will present the findings.


  • Professor Gilles Carbonnier is the vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (appointed in 2018). Since 2007, he has been a professor of development economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva), where he also served as director of studies and president of the Centre for Education and Research in Humanitarian Action. Prior to joining the Graduate Institute, Gilles worked with the ICRC in Iraq, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Sri Lanka and served as an economic adviser at the ICRC’s headquarters (1999–2006). His expertise is in international cooperation, the economic dynamics of armed conflict, and the nexus between natural resources and development. His latest book, published by Hurst and Oxford University Press in 2016, is entitled Humanitarian Economics: War, Disaster and the Global Aid Market.
  • Dr Fiona Terry has worked for over two decades in humanitarian operations in different parts of the world including Northern Iraq, Somalia, the Great Lakes region of Africa, Liberia, Sudan, Myanmar, Nepal and Afghanistan, principally for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). She holds a Ph.D. in international relations and political science from the Australian National University and is the author of Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action (Cornell University Press, 2002), which won the 2006 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. She is now heading the ICRC’s new centre for operational research and co-led the Roots of Restraint in War study.
  • Dr Brian McQuinn brings almost two decades of experience analysing and engaging armed groups in more than a dozen conflict-affected countries. Brian received his doctorate at the University of Oxford, which was based on seven months of fieldwork conducted in Libya during the 2011 uprising. He has published with Oxford University Press, Hurst Publishers and in various peer-reviewed journals. Brian co-led the Roots of Restraint in War study.
  • Dr David Whetham is a Reader in Military Ethics in the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, based at the Joint Services Command and Staff College at the UK Defence Academy. David initially took a degree in Philosophy at the London School of Economics and went on to take a Masters Degree in War Studies at King’s College London. After some time spent traveling around the Great Lakes region of Africa, David returned to King’s to take a PhD in War Studies. Before joining King’s as a permanent member of staff in 2003, David worked as a BBC researcher and with the OSCE in Kosovo, supporting the 2001 and 2002 elections. David also sits on the King’s Research Ethics Committee that oversees the research conducted in the Faculties of Social Science and Public Policy, Arts and Humanities and Law. David is also Director of the King's Centre for Military Ethics. David’s main research interests are focused on the ethical dimensions of warfare and the development of the laws of war.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

To attend this event, please register online using the "Register Now" button above. If you have any queries please contact Lieke Bos, Project Officer, at

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