In situations of global armed conflict, civilians are in need of vital supplies, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in partnership with the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict launched the “Oxford Guidance on the Law Relating to Humanitarian Relief Operations in Situations of Armed Conflict.” According to Mr. Dapo Akande, one of the authors, its aim is to continue execution of the laws within the document as they stand, but provide better clarity with regard to humanitarian relief operations in situations of armed conflict.
One of the biggest problems humanitarian organizations face is obtaining consent from parties involved in the armed conflict in order to conduct humanitarian operations within their territory. The Oxford Guidance addresses the responsibility of the states or parties to meet the needs of their civilian population. If civilians are not being adequately provided with essential supplies as a result of state neglect, consent for the humanitarian relief operations must not be arbitrarily withheld. In response, failure to meet such responsibilities by withholding consent or denying civilians access to humanitarian relief programs will subject the states or parties to being charged with war crimes.
Non-belligerent states must allow neglected civilians access to humanitarian relief as well. These states must “allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief supplies, equipment, and personnel.” These states may also have technical arrangements that allow them to search any of the supplies or personnel, so long as it does not delay progress within the humanitarian operations.
Meeting: “Oxford Guidance on the Law Relating to Humanitarian Relief Operations in Situations of Armed Conflict”
Date/Time/Location: 27 October 2016; 10:00 to 12:00; Conference Room 11
Speakers: Ryan Goodman, Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law; Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Chief of Policy Development and Studies Branch; Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law at the University of Oxford; Emanuela-Chiara Gillard, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict
Written By: Leticia Murillo, WIT Representative