Strengthening respect for international humanitarian law [fr]
France and Germany have made the protection of humanitarian and medical personnel and, more broadly, the strengthening of respect for international humanitarian law a priority for their twin presidencies of the Security Council in March and April 2019.
In this regard, the French and German Foreign Ministers launched a mobilization campaign on 1 April 2019 to preserve the "humanitarian space", i.e. the ability of those who provide assistance to victims of conflicts to carry out their mission safely and effectively.
In this respect, they co-chaired on 1 April 2019 an Arria meeting on the protection of humanitarian and medical workers, which collected testimonies and proposals for concrete actions from UN agencies and NGOs. This meeting was followed by a Security Council briefing on respect for international humanitarian law: while 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, this meeting was an opportunity to recall what should be obvious: even war has rules, and these rules are called international humanitarian law. This meeting highlighted several avenues for strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law.
In this line, France organized on July 16, 2021, during its presidency of the Security Council, a ministerial meeting of the Security Council on the protection of the humanitarian space. This meeting made it possible to:
- alert on the alarming shrinking of the humanitarian space ;
- highlight good practices to ensure the protection of humanitarian actors;
- illustrate the need to reinforce the fight against impunity for attacks against humanitarian personnel;
- allow the United Nations to announce its intention to appoint a person to work on the preservation of humanitarian space.
The preservation of humanitarian space will be one of the highlights of the next French presidency of the European Union, with the organization of the European conference on humanitarian aid (“Assises européennes de l’humanitaire”) in early 2022.
On 26 September 2019, the French and German Foreign Ministers presented in New York, during an event organized by France and Germany on the Alliance for multilateralism, a “Humanitarian Call for Action”.
At this stage, the Humanitarian Call for Action has been endorsed by 51 signatories: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Central African Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Norway, Palestine, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uruguay, and the European Union.
This Call for Action identifies concrete commitments that Member States can make to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law and principled humanitarian action, in particular to:
• reinforce national frameworks to ensure domestic implementation of international humanitarian law ;
• improve knowledge on international humanitarian law ;
• influence parties to an armed conflict regarding respect of international humanitarian law ;
• support efforts to collect and analyze information, improve prevention and ensure accountability.
France and Germany encourage all States to support this initiative. The endorsement of the Humanitarian Call for Action can be formalized through a note verbale sent to the German and the French missions to the United Nations in New York.
The political declaration initiated by France on 31 October 2017 on protection of humanitarian and medical personnel has been endorsed by 48 States [lien vers le document en français et en anglais] : Albania, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chili, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Senegal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
With this declaration, States:
• recognize the importance of the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2286 ;
• agree to review their national legislation to comply with international humanitarian law, with regard to medical protection;
• agree to avoid arms transfers that could be used to commit or facilitate violations of international humanitarian law;
• call upon the Security Council to adopt measures to respond to repeated acts of violence and other acts impeding the provision of medical care in armed conflict and to include this issue in the mandate of peacekeeping operations;
• agree to review their national military doctrine to include the protection of medical mission in the planning and conduct of their operations.
France encourages all States to support this initiative. The endorsement of this political declaration can be formalized through a note verbale sent to the French mission to the United Nations in New York.