Humanitarian Relief in Armed Conflict

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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

 

Humanitarian Crises in Colombia and Myanmar

Rakhine camp._(8288488088)Today in the Trusteeship Council a meeting was convened on the humanitarian crises in Colombia and Myanmar. Beginning the meeting, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ms. Kang, gave a briefing on the situation in Colombia, which continues to be grave as the country faces various humanitarian challenges including natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, as well as widespread violence from armed conflict. Currently, there are over 5.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Colombia, with the biggest threats to human security coming from violence against women, the recruitment of child soldiers, and the use of land mines. She pointed out the importance of humanitarian relief funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), but urged donors to do more in supporting Colombia’s humanitarian needs.

Next, Mr. Hochschild, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Colombia, gave a statement about how decreases in poverty in Colombia have not been matched by decreases in inequality. He pointed out the three main dimensions of inequality that persist in Colombia, which are gender inequality, ethnic inequality, and geographic inequality. This inequality combined with ongoing conflict is only making the humanitarian situation in Colombia worse. Following, the Permanent Representative of Colombia spoke about how Colombia must overcome conflict in a sustainable way, so victims and survivors are at the center of the post conflict resolution process. She called for the support of the UN, and pointed out how war is a significant driver of poverty, and every opportunity needs to be taken to promote peace.

Next, Ms. Kang then gave a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar, where thousands of people in Rakhine and Kachin states continue to rely on humanitarian aid, and are so far unable to rebuild their lives due to conflict. The IDP camps are in terrible condition, severely restrict freedom of movement, and seriously lack access to adequate health care, water, and jobs. Myanmar also suffers from regular earthquakes, floods, and cyclones, which contribute to the deteriorating humanitarian situation. Concluding the meeting, the Permanent Representative of Myanmar spoke about the trust deficit that exists between the government and the donor community. He called for a human rights based approach to humanitarian aid, and an improvement of relations between Myanmar’s government and UN organizations/NGOs.

 

Meeting Title: “The Humanitarian Situation in Colombia and Myanmar” (Organized by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA))
Speakers: Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator; Mr. Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Resident and Coordinator for Colombia; H.E. Ms. Maria Emma Mejia Velez, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the UN; Mr. Kyaw, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the UN
Date: 18 June 2014
Location: Trusteeship Council, United Nations HQ, New York
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan