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Rules of war

UN resolution aims to protect medical and aid workers

The United Nations Security Council has adopted a resolution on the protection of medical personnel and facilities in conflict zones.

The resolution follows bombings of hospitals in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, and recalls that such attacks can constitute war crimes.

“Even wars have limits, because wars without limits are wars without end,” said Peter Maurer, president of the Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to the Council ambassadors in New York City on Tuesday.

"This resolution is an important step, but it is only the beginning. I ask you to continue this momentum.”

Maurer said the ICRC has identified 2400 attacks against medical facilities, patients and doctors in 11 countries of conflict over the last three years. “That means at least two a day, every day, for three years,” he said.

The text, developed notably by New Zealand, Egypt, Spain and Uruguay, “strongly condemns acts of violence” against the ill and injured, medical and humanitarian personnel, ambulances, and buildings containing care facilities. It incorporates the provisions of international humanitarian rights law, and does not refer to specific cases.

If incidents occur, countries must lead rapid and impartial investigations to “hold guilty parties accountable”. The resolution also states that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must make a report to the Council every 12 months on its application.

“Even wars have rules – it is time to respect them and uphold them,” the Secretary General said.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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