Religious organizations are increasingly visible in development and humanitarian aid, something which has been reflected in the emergence of a new strand of research, focusing on these organizations and their involvement in the provision of development and humanitarian aid. However, most of this literature centers on individual organizations, and there is a lack of systematic information about larger numbers of organizations: What distinguishes them from other organizations? What characterises them as a group? And does it even make sense to consider them as a group?
This paper will discuss the advisory services and technical assistance programme in the field of human rights available in the United Nations Centre for Human Rights/Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It will also discuss in detail the major components of the programme of advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights. It will examine in brief the situation of human rights in Nigeria from 1995 to 1998, at the peak of the regime of General Sani Abacha, the Head of State and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (November 1993 – June 1998), from the perspective of the UN alone. The sudden death of General Abacha in June 1998 brought to power another military ruler, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who eventually handed over power on 29 May 1999 to an elected President, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd), thereby ending a 15-year continuous rule of Nigeria by the military.
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.
Contrary to popular myth, humanitarian neutrality and impartiality are not absolute concepts. Their application depends on the type of international actor involved, the mandate according to which that actor operates, and the nature and extent of the international crisis or humanitarian emergency that is being addressed. For future UN mandated action, clarification of these concepts and their proposed concrete application in relation to the target groups of the humanitarian operation in advance is required, if the disastrous dissonance between mandates and their implementation that appeared in instances such as Somalia and Bosnia is to be avoided.
This note argues that the threat of the use of force issued by the United States and the United Kingdom against Iraq in January/February 1998 was not legally justified. There exists no general right for those two governments forcibly to implement the ‘will of the international community’ or of the Security Council. Neither does a material breach of cease-fire resolution 687 (1991) justify the application or threat of force against Iraq. Furthermore, there exists no legal right to launch an armed attack against Iraq in response to the abstract threat posed by her possibly remaining weapons potential. Instead, the United States and United Kingdom policy represents a dangerous arrogation of powers which is bound to undermine the prohibition of the use of force in international law.
This article will investigate the process of demilitarization as conducted by the United Nations in Mozambique, first examining the framing of the objectives and demilitarization programme, secondly the implementation of demilitarization and finally analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the demilitarization programme in Mozambique.
This year’s conference will focus on the relationships between humanitarian action and peacekeeping operations, reviewing past operations and formulating recommendations for the future. This paper identifies key policy issues which the Conference may wish to address.
Lack of coordination (including lack of clarity over tasks and command and reporting lines), mutual unfamiliarity, and attitudinal divergence are the principal sources of stress between peacekeepers and aid workers. Nevertheless, Chapter VI mandates rarely give rise to difficulty over the reconciliation of objectives.
However, another issue has arisen with regard to some recent operations. It centres on the application of the principle that aid is provided on the basis of need only, and that it is provided impartially and neutrally. The principle is unexceptionable, and would be fully endorsed by all representatives of the international community. The trouble is, that in its application to the kinds of conflict which have arisen, especially in Bosnia and Croatia, what the humanitarian bodies excoriate as `linkage’ has appeared in various forms. For this, they tend to hold peacekeepers responsible.
This paper will look at the current wave of interventionism in the Third World and at some of its implications for North-South relations. It will identify and discuss three related and somewhat contradictory trends – militarization, privatization and diversion – which seem to be increasingly important features of the new world disorder. The point of view is that of the humanitarian practitioner who observes with considerable disquiet the sea changes that are taking place in what used to be, at least conceptually, a simpler and more predictable universe. Gone are the crisp concepts of the Cold War era. Everything seemed to make sense then, and what did not could not be questioned: it was relatively easy to make stubborn facts conform to grand theory. In the space of half a decade the world has become a much more complicated place, and theory is sorely lacking.
This paper examines the rise of the military humanitarian policy of the United Nations since 1992 and outlines the new military doctrine on peacekeeping. First it explores how a military based approach to the increasing number of complex political emergencies emerged as a deliberate policy within the United Nations in the new humanitarian era after the Cold War. Secondly, it looks at various NGO reactions to this new era. Thirdly, it compares the very different nature of today’s UN peacekeeping operations with its Cold War predecessors. Fourthly, it examines current British Army doctrine of “wider peacekeeping” and its emphasis on the principle of consent. Finally, it takes the view that the new peacekeeping is here to stay and that the main challenge facing all those involved in humanitarian assistance is to further refine its basic principles and techniques.
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