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People’s security as a new measure of global stability

30-06-2001 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 842, by Claude Bruderlein


Claude Bruderlein
is Lecturer on Law at the Harvard University Law School, Cambridge (USA), and Director of the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research. The author thanks Andrew Mack of the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General, and Dr Jennifer Leaning and Judy Stone from the Harvard Program, for their thoughtful comments on human security issues. 

Despite renewed commitment by States to respect and ensure respect for the rules of international humanitarian law, the surge of violence against civilians has continued. Entire populations in Europe, Africa and Central Asia have been displaced, harassed or subjected to extreme forms of violence as a consequence of armed conflicts, in violation of the most fundamental rules of international humanitarian and human rights law. As a result, traditional schemes of protection enshrined in international law are increasingly questioned, revealing the need to develop new strategies to enhance the protection of civilians in times of war. In his Report to the Millennium Assembly, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote:
“International conventions have traditionally looked at states to protect civilians, but today this expectation is threatened in several ways. First, states are sometimes the principal perpetrator of violence against the very citizens that humanitarian law requires them to protect. Second, non-state combatants, particularly in collapsed states, are often ignorant or contemptuous of humanitarian law. Third, international conventions do not adequately address the specific needs of vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced persons, or women and children in complex emergencies.”  

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