Achieving Accountability: Prosecuting the Denial of Humanitarian Assistance in Non-International Armed Conflict

Author: Farquhar, Harriet

Date: 2016

Type: Scholarly text

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Victoria University of Wellington


Over the past decade, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of armed conflict has grown to unprecedented levels. The rapid and effective provision of such assistance constitutes one of the greatest challenges faced by the international community in protecting civilians and other protected persons in times of conflict. While international humanitarian law imposes extensive obligations on the parties to a conflict to grant access to humanitarian actors and facilitate the provision of relief assistance, these rules are routinely violated. This results in significant and prolonged suffering of civilian populations. If the law governing humanitarian assistance is to be better respected, those who act unlawfully must be held accountable. One of the most effective mechanisms for ensuring such accountability is prosecution of international crimes at the International Criminal Court. In its present form, however, there is no provision in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which provides specifically for the prosecution of the unlawful denial of humanitarian assistance in non-international armed conflict. This paper argues that this leaves a significant gap in the accountability framework, and examines possibilities for reform.

Subjects: Humanitarian assistance, Non-international armed conflict, Accountability