Statement condemning Turkey's invasion of Rojava / North Eastern Syria

1.     The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers denounces Turkey’s invasion of North East Syria, which constitutes a gross violation of international law by the Turkish Republic and its officials. The Haldane Society also condemns in the strongest possible terms the facilitation of this invasion by the U.S. and the complicity of E.U. states, including the U.K.

 2.     On Sunday 6th October 2019, the White House issued a statement announcing its withdrawal of U.S forces from the Turkey-Syria border and effectively giving the green light to Turkey’s “long-planned operation into Northern Syria”, following a phone conversation between U.S President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. On Wednesday the 9th of October 2019, Turkey began its assault.

 3.      Kurdish forces have led the fight to defend the world against the brutal facism of ISIS. 11,000 predominantly Kurdish women and men gave their lives in this struggle against terrorism, as did 10 British citizens, and 24,000 were injured. Kurdish organisations have established one of the most peaceful regions in the middle east – the Autonomous Administration of North East Syria (also known as Rojava); a secular multicultural democracy based on principles of direct democracy, pluralism, women’s liberation, ecological justice and cooperative economy. 

The crime of aggression

4.     Turkey’s invasion of Rojava is a violation of the prohibition of the use of force set out in Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations, which is not only a treaty obligation but is also a principle of customary international law. There is no exception to the prohibition of the use of force under the right to self-defense in these circumstances.

5.     When Turkey invaded Afrin in March 2018, the Turkish presidential spokesman maintained Turkey was exercising its right to self-defense pursuant to Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, claiming there had been 700 attacks against Turkish cities. This claim was later reported to be unfounded.

 6.     Likewise, there is no evidence to support Turkey’s assessment of the present situation. Erdogan says Turkey is acting to prevent the creation of a ‘terror corridor’, claiming the people’s protection units – the YPG and YPJ – are a terrorist organisation. On the contrary, these are the forces that have sacrificed the most to both ideologically and militarily defeat terrorism in the region. Moreover, far from launching any attacks against Turkey, in August 2019 the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), implemented a demilitarised ‘peace corridor’ along the Turkish-Syrian border in response to Turkey’s supposed security concerns – pulling back their weapons and forces by 5 to 14 kilometers along the border area and allowing U. S and Turkish patrols in good faith.

7.     In the absence of an armed attack against Turkey, Turkey’s military offensive constitutes a violation of Article 2(4) of the Charter.  The pretext of preventing the creation of a ‘terror corridor’ does not legitimise Turkey’s military offensive under Article 51 of the Charter, as customary international law only recognises anticipatory self-defence as lawful when an attack is imminent.

8.     Turkey’s use of force in invading Rojava in a manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations therefore constitutes an act of Aggression as defined in Article 1 and 3(1) of UN General Assembly resolution 3314 (XXIX) and within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even though Turkey is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of Aggression allows the UN Security Council to refer a situation for investigation by the prosecutor under Article 13 of the Rome Statute of the ICC.

War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

9.    Erdogan has declared that his intention in invading Rojava is to establish a “safe zone” stretching 50 miles from the Turkish border, as far as Raqqa and Deir al-Zour (the full extent of the Kurdish-controlled region), in order to resettle millions of Arab-Syrian refugees. This would constitute a dramatic demographic change in the historically Kurdish and multi-ethnic region. There is substantial evidence to suggest that Erdogan’s real intention is to carry out ethnic cleansing and genocide against Kurdish, Yezidi and Christian populations, as Genocide Watch has recently warned. Such actions would constitute as crimes under Articles 6 and 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

10.  The invasion of the Afrin canton in 2018 and its subsequent occupation by Turkish forces and Turkish controlled, armed and funded jihadist groups has forcibly displaced thousands and led to atrocities such as kidnapping, extortion, murder, torture, rape, gender-based violence, which Amnesty International has denounced as war crimes, per the definition in Article 8 of the Rome Statute. There is no reason to suggest that Turkey has different plans for the rest of Rojava.  

Erga Omnes Obligation

11.  Turkey’s invasion is unquestionably an act of aggression and runs a grave risk of causing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The invasion as such constitutes the violation of erga omnes obligations under international law. This means that the legal interests of all states are engaged. It also places a legal obligation on all states not to recognise illegal situations such as invasion and occupation stemming from breaches of erga omnes obligations or to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by the breach.

12.  The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers therefore calls upon the UK government to fulfil its obligations under international law not to recognise or render aid or assistance in Turkey’s invasion of Rojava by immediately:

i.         Ending all weapons sales and exports from the UK to Turkey

ii.        Ending all UK provision of security and intelligence to Turkey

iii.        Using its position at the UN Security Council to achieve a no-fly zone over Rojava as well as sanctions, particularly an arms embargo, against Turkey.

iv.    Ending the EU-Turkey deal, which provides billions of euros to the Turkish state and enables Erdogan to weaponise the suffering of millions of displaced people in attempts to blackmail the EU into complicity with its invasion.

Free public lecture: Abolishing section 21: restructuring renting or technocratic tinkering?

Join the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers for a discussion on housing law reform.


Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 ('no fault' evictions, and the consequent total lack of security of tenure in the the private rented sector) was a key plank of the Thatcher government's housing settlement. Its existence has been unquestioned by successive governments for for more than 30 years.

But in the last few months both main political parties announced their intention to abolish section 21.

The Haldane Society welcomes you to a discussion about the importance, necessity and consequences of re-regulating the private rented sector.

Reserve a free ticket here.

David Watkinson is a leading expert on housing law, having been a barrister at Garden Court Chambers for many years. In practice he was particularly committed to representing squatters and residential occupiers. David will speak about the importance of this proposal, and draw on the Rent Acts as an example of what a protected private rented sector looks like.

Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth (HASL) is a direct action casework and campaigning group based in south London. Izzy Koksal and others will speak about the reality facing HASL members - do they really need stronger rights to stay in terrible privately rented accommodation, or is a more ambitious programme of restoring council housing the only effective approach?

This is a particularly timely event as the government is currently consulting on its section 21 proposals.

Latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.

Social movements within and beyond the prison: how can lawyers help?

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  1. Kushal Sood (prison lawyer at Instalaw)

  2. Amal (IWOC)

  3. And a further speaker from SmashIPP

Join us for an evening of learning about the current prisoner movements in the UK, their struggles of building solidarity between people inside and outside of prison and how lawyers can help.

We’ll have presentations by an eminent prison lawyer and speakers from two abolitionist organisations at the forefront of fighting against the poor treatment of prisoners – Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee and SmashIPP. After the speakers will lead a breakout discussion on practical tips for success at parole hearings and strategise creative solutions to the problems encountered in prisoner organising.


Screening of ‘Unquiet Graves: the Story of the Glenanne Gang’ and Q & A – Hosted by Haldane Society and Connolly Association


Date: Thursday, 23 May 2019 from 19:00

Venue: London Irish Centre, 50-52 Camden Square, NW1 9XB London, United Kingdom

Tickets: £10 + £1 Booking Fee (all proceeds go to the film’s creative team)

Buy online here.

Details: Exposing Britain's secret collaboration in the murders of over 120 people on both sides of the Irish border during the recent conflict.

Unquiet Graves: The story of the Glenanne Gang details how members of
the RUC and UDR, (a British Army regiment) were centrally involved in the murder of over 120 innocent civilians during the recent conflict in Ireland.

It will detail how members worked hand in hand with known sectarian murderers in the targeted assassinations of farmers, shopkeepers, publicans and other civilians in a campaign aimed at terrorising the most vulnerable in society.

Now known as the Glenanne Gang, the group of killers rampaged through Counties Tyrone and Armagh and across into the Irish Republic in a campaign that lasted from July 1972 to the end of 1978.

Free public lecture: Women and the welfare state in 2019


Come join the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers in conjunction with the Haldane Feminist Lawyers at this special International Women's Day edition of our yearly human rights lecture series.

We will be discussing the state of women within the welfare state in 2019, including "benefits reform", the effect of austerity and fighting back against these policies. We will be hearing from Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, a barrister from Doughty Street who have been involved in successfully challenging the benefits cap and the bedroom tax.

There will be time for contributions from the floor, as well as questions and answers. Latecomers are welcome to enter quietly.


Date: 19 March 2019
Time: 6.30pm to 8.30pm
Place: University of Law, Store Street, London

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Solidarity with the International Working Women’s Day Strike 2019

Today, for the third year running, women across the world are going on strike as part of a militant, joyful feminist international, against a world lurching towards barbarism.

With fascism on the march, emboldened by the ascent to power of far-right politics in the U.S.A, Brazil, Poland, India, and Italy, feminist movements in the past year have continued to occupy the front-line of the international fight against barbarism. Among these: the Ele Não movement against Jair Bolsonaro’s fascism in Brazil; the Marea Verde for free, safe, legal abortion in Argentina; the Keralan women who formed a 620 km long human chain to protest for equality in India, the Ni Una Menos movement across Latin America, the Ni Una di Meno movement resisting Salvini’s ‘Security law’ in Italy, and the Kurdish women’s revolution which continues to be instrumental in both the military and ideological defeat of ISIS.

Here in the UK, the past year has seen migrant women in precarious work organise strikes in London, and thousands of public sector working women on strike in Glasgow, as well as the growth of a new feminist anti-fascist movement, which in December led the march against Tommy Robinson and Fortress Britain, carrying a vast banner that read “The enemy doesn’t arrive by boat, he arrives by limousine.”

By withdrawing waged and unwaged labour today, the feminist international is making visible - and making connections between - the many forms of work women do: from the exploitative work of commodity production to the invisibilized work of social reproduction; from the struggle for bodily autonomy, to the struggle for anti-imperialist self-determination; from the fight against gender violence and femicide, to the fight against capitalist extractivism and ecocide. As the Feminist International says, this is a movement that is shaped by feminist movements in the South, and is unequivocally anti-colonial, anti-cisheterosexist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist.

It is a fight to change not only our conditions of work, but our world. In the words of Women’s strike UK: “We are not asking for our fair share under capitalism, we are seeking to destroy altogether a system that is designed to divide and oppress us.”

The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers stands in full solidarity with the International Working Women’s Day strike.

We call for donations to the UK Women’s Strike Fund, to help offset the costs to women leaving work and attending strike action and women’s assemblies.

Forward comrades, to a red feminist horizon!

Haldane AGM, Elections, & Lecture: "Being a Socialist Lawyer" - 7 February 2019


The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers AGM will be held on Thursday 7 February 2019 at 6.30pm, at the Universtiy of Law. The AGM will also elect the Officers and Executive Committee of the Society.

There will also be an informal discussion with Executive Committee members about socialist amd the law. Refreshments will be provided, and members will be invited to a social event afterwards.


Day of the Endangered Lawyer: 24 January 2019


Please join us at the Turkish Embassy at 12:00pm on 24 January 2019 for the Day of the Endangered Lawyer protest.

The Day  of  the  Endangered  Lawyer  is  the  day  on  which  we  turn  the  spotlight  on lawyers  all  over  the  world  who  are  being  harassed,  silenced,  pressured,  threatened, persecuted,  tortured.    Murders  and  enforced  disappearances  as  well  are  not  out  of  the ordinary.  The  only  reason  for  these  outrages  is  the  fact  that  these  lawyers  are  doing  their job, and  fulfilling their  professional  obligations, when  they  are  needed  the  most.  

The  24th  of  January  was  chosen  to  be  the  annual  International  Day  of  the Endangered  Lawyer  because  on  this  day  in  1977  four  labour  rights  lawyers  and  a coworker  were  murdered  at  their  office  address  at  Calle  Atocha  55  in  Madrid.  This  is known as  the  Massacre  of  Atocha.

The  International  Day  of  the  Endangered  Lawyer  aims,  on  the  one  hand,  to  create awareness  that  the  practice  of  the  legal  profession  in  many  countries  involves  significant risks,  including  that  of  being  murdered,  but  it  aims  as  well  at  denouncing  the  situation  in a  particular  country,  where  lawyers  are  victims  of  serious  violations  of  their  fundamental rights  because  they  exercise  their  profession.

 Every  year  on  24  January  lawyers’ organisations  dedicate  this  day  to  the  endangered  lawyers  in  a  particular  country:  2010 Iran,  2012  Turkey,  2013  Basque  Country/Spain,  2014  Colombia,  2015  Philippines,  2016 Honduras,  2017  China  &  Egypt.  The  European  Democratic  Lawyers  (AED-EDL) established  the  Day  of  the  Endangered  Lawyer  in  2010.  Since  then  it  has  been  coorganized  by  AED-EDL  and  the  European  Association  of  Lawyers  for  Democracy   (ELDH)  and  the  foundation  “The  Day  of  the  Endangered  Lawyer”.  Many  other  lawyers’ organisations  and bar associations  have  supported this  project. In  2019  the  Day  of  the  Endangered  Lawyer  focuses  on  the  endangered  lawyers  in Turkey.

There  are  around  78  separate  criminal  prosecutions  and  investigations  against  human  rights  lawyers. Hundreds  of  lawyers  are  charged  within  these  criminal procedures.  Most  of  them  are  under  judicial  control  with  a  ban  from  travelling  abroad  or with the  duty to give  signature  to the  police  headquarter on certain days  of  the  week.   A

In all the cases  which  have been chosen  as  examples (see the attached Report) lawyers  were  accused  just because  of  practising  their  profession.  By  so  doing,  the  Turkish  State  systematically violates  the  UN  Basic  Principles  on  the  Role  of  Lawyers  and  it  is  obvious  that  this violation has  direct  impacts  on the  right  of  defence.  

Haldane Winter Party 13 December 2018

Join us on 13 December 2018

The Haldane Winter Party 2018 will be on 13 December 2018, at Garden Court Chambers.  Advance tickets are £12 (full price) or £8 (student/unwaged/low waged).  Tickets on the door will be £15/£10; we will accept cash or PayPal.

Entertainment, drink and vegetarian food will be provided throughout the night, within your ticket price.

Get your tickets now

Early bird tickets are no longer available: tickets can be purchased on the door either below, or with cash.

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Solidarity Statement Following the Conviction of the Stansted 15

On Monday 10 December 2018 a group of peaceful anti-deportation activists, the Stansted 15, were convicted of offences under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, a piece of legislation introduced in the wake of the Lockerbie bombing aimed at combating international terrorism. The Stansted 15 prevented the departure of a chartered flight deporting 60 people from the UK to Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, many of whom were at risk of great harm if removed.

The charge - endangering safety at an aerodrome - carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The defendants were initially charged with the lesser offence of aggravated trespass: four months after the protest action, the prosecution amended the charge to the more serious offence of endangering the safety of an aerodrome. The decision to increase the seriousness of the charge, without any change in evidence, appears to be intended to dissuade activists from taking direct action.

Of those who would have been deported on the flight, 11 remain in the UK to have their cases heard, while some have been granted leave to remain. Among those scheduled to be on the flight were recognised survivors of trafficking and slavery who had sought protection in the United Kingdom.

It is a great injustice that it is those who have acted to save lives who have been convicted, rather than those who acted to put people at risk of death and persecution. The conviction of the Stansted 15 is a damning indictment of the Home Office and the UK Government's intolerance of criticism. Instead of reflecting on the hostile environment and what motivated the activists to take direct action, the government has subjected these brave individuals to a long and expensive trial which has treated their actions as equivalent to those of terrorists.

We express our solidarity with the Stansted 15, and all those who take action against the cruel and racist immigration policies of the British government. We support the calls of the Stansted 15 for an immediate end to deportation charter flights, and for a full independent public inquiry into the government’s ‘hostile environment’.