Humanitarian Access Overview

Date: 
May 24, 2011

 

Headlines & Opinion

2014

2013 & 2012

2011

2010

Resources

Reports 

Understanding Humanitarian Exemptions

Principled humanitarian action can be restricted by sanctions in regimes in a number of ways, notably via UN sanctions programs and state-level laws criminalizing the provision of material support of terrorism. When humanitarian organizations need to pay taxes, registration fees or checkpoint fees to access populations in need, they may run afoul of these laws if they are paid to a terrorist organization or its affiliate. Other humanitarian aid activities that potentially violate counterterrorism provisions include visits to detainees, first aid training and provision of assistance, just to name a few.

The term “humanitarian exemption” can relate to two different concepts, as described in a new briefing paper by the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, Understanding Humanitarian Exemptions: UN Security Council Sanctions and Principled Humanitarian Action. These exemptions can apply to listed individuals who need humanitarian assistance or to humanitarian organizations and actors. The latter allows these actors to “deliver their services without the risk of contravening those regimes,” the paper explains.  Read more

Abstract: Understanding Humanitarian Exemptions

Date: 
May 11, 2016
Author: 

Principled humanitarian action can be restricted by sanctions in regimes in a number of ways, notably via UN sanctions programs and state-level laws criminalizing the provision of material support of terrorism. When humanitarian organizations need to pay taxes, registration fees or checkpoint fees to access populations in need, they may run afoul of these laws if they are paid to a terrorist organization or its affiliate.

Survey: Counterterrorism Laws Impede Aid Delivery in Syria

Delivering humanitarian aid in Syria is more difficult because Western counterterrorism laws have forced aid organizations to avoid communities controlled by extremist groups. Consequently, vulnerable populations are more at greater risk of radicalization, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation found. 

In addition, government donors and banks are requesting more in-depth audits since ISIS took control, adding time and cost to humantarian missions in Syria. According to the Syrian NGO alliance, a consortium of 90 NGOs working in the country, organizations have been forced to cancel projects because they could not keep up with the additional paperwork. 

Data from the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey revealed that the bureaucratic workload had risen by an average of 7,000 extra man hours per charity in the two years since ISIS had taken root, the equivalent of three full-time staff. One charity said the cost of compliance reporting had doubled since March 2014.

Read the full story here

Paper: IHL and IHRL Work Together to Protect Rights of Civilians

Date: 
July 24, 2012

International human rights law (IHRL), recognized by treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international humanitarian law (IHL), which applies to armed conflict situations, share the responsibility of protecting the economic, social and cultural rights of people caught in an armed conflict, says a June 2012 paper published in the Electronic Journal of International Studies (REEI). After World War II, IHRL and IHL were initially treated as two distinct bodies of law, applicable in different situations.

Paper: International Humanitarian Law Primary Means of Protecting Civilians

Date: 
December 11, 2012

A September 2012 paper in the Asia-Pacific Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law  explores the distinction and relationship between the protection of civilians in armed conflict under international humanitarian law and by the use of force under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. It demonstrates that, while the Security Council has increasingly authorized the use of force to protect civilians in armed conflict, international humanitarian law “remains the principal means of protecting civilians in armed conflict.”

ODI: Negotiating Humanitarian Access

Date: 
July 9, 2012

Even in hostile operating environments humanitarian actors engage with armed non-state actors (ANSAs) to negotiate access to civilians in order to alleviate suffering and improve the protection, says a June 2012 policy paper from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Identifying the obstacles to and opportunities for humanitarian dialogue with ANSAs, Talking to the other side: Humanitarian engagement with armed non-state actors, finds restrictions created by counterterrorism measures have been “distinctly damaging to humanitarian action” in places like Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan. The report’s authors call for increased support in facilitating productive humanitarian dialogue with ANSAs from donor states and the United Nations.

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