Abstract: In this paper, I question the manner in which humanitarian assistance is carried out in relation to human rights in emergency circumstances. I put to test the humanitarian principles of humanity and impartiality on the basis of which I question why the situation of Somali refugees in Kenya is given more attention than the situation […]
This study analyzes over 100 camps for Haiti’s internally displaced persons (IDPs), a random sample of one in eight of the 861 in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. Despite the billions in aid pledged to Haiti, most of the estimated 1.5 million IDPs are living in substandard conditions. For example, seven months following the earthquake, 40 percent of IDP camps did not have access to water, and 30 percent did not have toilets of any kind. Only a fifth of camps have education, health care, or psycho-social facilities on site. Services in the camps vary quite significantly according to a range of factors. Camps in Cité Soleil have almost no services, while those in Pétion-Ville are better managed. Smaller camps, with 100 or fewer families, have demonstrably fewer services. Camps situated on private land – 71 percent of the sample – are significantly worse off than those on public land. These conditions were prime breeding ground for the cholera epidemic, which as of the submission of the article claimed more than 1,700 lives. This article ends with recommendations to improve the quality of life within the camps.
Based on interviews and field work in Rwanda over the course of two years, this article argues that genocide survivors have been excluded from the human rights guarantees and protections offered to refugees and asylum seekers experiencing persecution and threat to their lives and welfare. It illustrates how genocide survivors are subject to unique psychological and social vulnerabilities, including psycho-social trauma and high levels of chronic stress which impede their capacity to rehabilitate themselves and rebuild their lives. Many are forced to live in the same neighborhoods and villages as the genocidaires that raped and tortured them as well as their families and friends, and who murdered many of their closest kin. This is an intrinsically psychologically destabilizing position which burdens and overwhelms genocide survivors, subjecting them to continuous retraumatization. Consequently, it argues that genocide survivors should be granted special privileged immigration rights to resettlement outside of Rwanda.
This article presents a theory of obligation in the context of humanitarianism. Its foundational assumption is that there exists a moral imperative to assist the structurally dispossessed and functionally abused. It builds particularly on the cross-disciplinary work (both academic and applied) of anthropologists, but also of political scientists, sociologists, human rights specialists, and others. The links between human rights and humanitarianism are stressed, while suggesting principles that can guide humanitarian organizations as they serve those in need. Humanitarianism is defined as “crossing a boundary;” risk usually is encountered by the service provider as scarce resources are used to help the vulnerable. Obligation is defined, in part, as “what one should do.” A theory emerges as the “morally possible” and the “materially possible” intersect. Notions of human dignity are shown not to be appropriate in orienting the real-world work of humanitarians; notions of fairness are more appropriate as humanitarian work is organized and implemented. “Pragmatic humanitarianism” occurs as principled guidelines and achievable actions merge, and as non-neutral stances are taken as (for example) refugees are assisted. Humanitarian aid is shown to be fundamentally a moral relationship based on the obligation of “those who have” to address the felt needs of “those who have not.” Examples from Bosnia are featured.
This paper looks at the impact Human Rights notions have on international peace and security. It discusses how human rights and international peace and security are interrelated and interdependent and that the fostering of one promotes the enhancement of the other and that the needs for universal respects for Human Rights and Peace respectively can be reconciled under international law, if the use of force remains the last resort in the problems of human rights. It also incorporates a step by step procedure for the enforcement of human rights under international law.
A quick glance at the United Nations (UN) Charter shows that human rights are not protected by the collective security system since there are only mentioned in article 1 (enumerating the purposes of the UN) and article 55 (belonging to the UN co-operation system). "The Charter clearly distinguishes between action taken to restore and maintain international peace (…) and action taken to create the conditions of stability and well-being necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among States". Indeed human rights, at the time of the drafting of the Charter, were considered as domestic matters protected from external interference by article 2(7) and by customary international law. However, the analysis of practice reveals that violations of human rights are more and more frequently and specifically discussed and even sometimes condemned by UN bodies.
Astoundingly though, the Security Council (SC) has no special powers concerning human rights and international humanitarian law, despite the reluctance of some countries like China and Zimbabwe, it has become involved in this realm and acted within the framework of the collective security system. Such a development can be explained by the change of armed conflicts’ nature: nowadays combatants do not fight only against combatants but also against the civilian population who becomes the direct target of attacks. The idiosyncrasy of the third generation of civil war has therefore encouraged the Security Council to become active.
Nonetheless, a closer analysis unveils that the protection of human rights in peacetime and warfare offered by the Security Council is rather weak and that today its only success is the provision of humanitarian assistance.
One could be surprised by such a statement since one could genuinely believe that it is easier to enforce rights then a concept which at first sight appears to be without legal basis. Indeed, as stated by René Jean Dupuy: "les droits de l’homme relèvent de l’argument juridique, l’assistance invoque un sentiment d’humanité". In addition, whereas human rights are of inter-State concern, humanitarian assistance is usually regarded as being classically within the realm of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
The separation of these two notions implies that a right to humanitarian assistance does not exist and hence it cannot be invoked in order to alleviate people’s suffering during warfare. In fact, these two terms stem from different philosophies. In the first case, people’s rights should not be disregarded and in the latter one, these violations are more or less tolerated but should not attain a certain threshold. This solution is usually used when it appears impossible to end violations of human rights. That explains why humanitarian assistance is considered as a substitute to a policy incapable of protecting human rights during war time.
The Security Council when confronted with the civil war in the Former Yugoslavia used both strategies. On the one hand it condemned the violations but since a military intervention in order to enforce its resolutions was rejected by the majority of its members, its requests were never listened to. On the other hand the Security Council decided to provide humanitarian relief to the civilian population and condemned the warring parties attacking the humanitarian convoys and personnel. Can thus humanitarian assistance be considered as a right or is it only a (surrogate) policy without any legal basis?
The right to humanitarian assistance has a twofold meaning:
- the victims’ right to be helped; and
- the organisations’ and States’ right to assist the victims.
This distinction may sound slightly senseless in particular when one thinks in terms of accessibility but legally, it changes the beneficiaries and the dutyholders of that right.
In a first part, I would like to analyse the Security Council’s resolutions pertaining to human rights violations which occurred in the Former Yugoslavia and try to find the legal basis of its actions. In a second part, the emphasis will be put on the existence of the right to humanitarian assistance and the consequences of such an existence.
- Transgression of Human Rights in Humanitarian Emergencies: The Case of Somali Refugees in Kenya and Zimbabwean Asylum-Seekers in South Africa
- Mapping Population Mobility in a Remote Context: Health Service Planning in the Whantoa District, Western Ethiopia
- One step forward, two steps back? Humanitarian Challenges and Dilemmas in Crisis Settings