Violence against health care (I)
IRRC No. 889
The problem and the law
Patients and health-care personnel alike face extraordinary risks in today's armed conflicts and other emergencies. Part I of this thematic issue focuses on patterns of attacks against health care, based on results from health-related data collection and field studies. It also outlines the legal and ethical frameworks applicable to the provision of health care. Part II will focus on the legal, operational or policy measures that can be taken to improve access to medical care in volatile contexts.
Table of contents
Violence against health care – Giving in is not an option
Interview with Walter T. Gwenigale, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of Liberia
In this interview, Minister Gwenigale explains how the armed conflict in Liberia impacted on the work of remotely-located Phebe hospital, on the needs of its patients and on the ability of the hospital staff to provide them with adequate medical care.
Violence against health care: insights from Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
This article explores the methodology and main findings of field studies conducted for the ICRC 's Health Care in Danger project in Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2010 and 2013. It discusses some of the actions that the ICRC takes in its health programmes to facilitate access to health care, and its approach to promoting better respect for the laws protecting it. It then suggests what more needs to be done to curb the violence.
Making sense of apparent chaos: health-care provision in six country case studies
This research examines the impact on health-care provision of advanced state failure and of the violence frequently associated with it, drawing from six country case studies.
The role of health-related data in promoting the security of health care in armed conflict and other emergencies
Health-related data provide the basis of policy in many domains. By using a methodology specifically designed to gather data about any form of violence and its impact, violence affecting health-care personnel, health-care facilities, and the wounded and sick in these facilities can be quantified on an objective basis.
In conversation with the members of the National Permanent Roundtable for the Respect of the Medical Mission in Colombia
The Colombian National Permanent Roundtable for the Respect of the Medical Mission (hereinafter ‘the Roundtable’) is a platform launched in 2008 on the initiative of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the Emergency Control Centre of the Ministry of Health of Cundinamarca with the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Colombian Red Cross.
The legal framework applicable to insecurity and violence affecting the delivery of health care in armed conflicts and other emergencies
Ensuring respect for, and protection of, the wounded and sick and delivery of health care to them were at the origin of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as the development of international humanitarian law (IHL). In today’s armed conflicts and other emergencies, the problem is not the lack of existing international rules but the implementation of relevant IHL and international human rights law (IHRL) which form a complementary framework governing this issue.
States’ obligations to mitigate the direct and indirect health consequences of non-international armed conflicts: complementarity of IHL and the right to health
This article analyses in detail how international humanitarian law (IHL) and the right to health complement each other in obliging states to mitigate the direct and indirect health consequences of non-international armed conflicts.
A human rights approach to health care in conflict
Attacks on and interference with health care services, providers, facilities, transports, and patients in situations of armed conflict, civil disturbance, and state repression pose enormous challenges to health care delivery in circumstances where it is most needed.
Medical ethics in peacetime and wartime: the case for a better understanding.
Health-care workers face ethical dilemmas in their decision-making in every clinical intervention they make. In times of armed conflict the decisions may be different, and the circumstances can combine to raise ethical tensions. This article looks at the tensions in peacetime and in times of armed conflict and examines the types of cases that doctors and other health-care workers will face. It also discusses the common ethical decision-making framework and the role of communication within both clinical care and ethical analysis.
Can the incidental killing of military doctors never be excessive?
Military medical personnel and objects, as well as wounded and sick combatants, are protected against direct attack under the principle of distinction in international humanitarian law. However, some authors argue that they are not covered by the principles of proportionality and precautions. This opinion note explains that military medical objects constitute civilian objects under the rules governing the conduct of hostilities. It also demonstrates that, in view of the object and purpose of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, expected incidental casualties of military medical personnel and wounded and sick combatants must be included among the relevant incidental casualties under the principles of proportionality and precautions.
New publications in humanitarian action and the law
This selection is based on the new acquisitions of the ICRC Library and Public Archives.