CALL FOR ACTION FOR SAFEGUARDING OF HUMANITARIAN SPACE AND ENDING IMPUNITY FOR ATTACKS AGAINST HUMANITARIANS
The past decades have seen a drastic increase in the number of people impacted by humanitarian crises. In 2020 alone, a staggering 168 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance around the world, mainly as a consequence of armed conflict. Humanitarian aid workers play an indispensable role in meeting the basic needs of vulnerable populations, going the last mile to reach, help and protect those most in need. In accordance with international humanitarian law (IHL), humanitarian relief personnel must be respected and protected.
Against this backdrop stands the reality of an ever-shrinking humanitarian space, fueled by a general erosion of respect for International Humanitarian Law, growing restrictions imposed by many states on humanitarian action, and increased violence against humanitarians.
Since the attack against the United Nations in Baghdad on August 19th 2003, a date now marked by World Humanitarian Day, dedicated to commemorating humanitarian aid workers killed and injured in the course of their work, over 5,000 national and international humanitarian aid workers have been victims of violence, of whom over 1,800 have been killed. Last year was the deadliest year on record for humanitarians, with 484 humanitarian aid workers victims of major attacks, of whom 124 died, 234 were wounded and 124 kidnapped. This year, this grim trend has continued, as illustrated most recently by tragic killings of humanitarian aid workers in a number of countries.
As humanitarians, we believe it is our responsibility and privilege to continue supporting those most in need in crisis situations. In doing so, we must abide by the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. However, going to the last mile to be in proximity with, provide vital support to and protect the most vulnerable is becoming increasingly challenging, hindering principled humanitarian action.
Humanitarian organizations are taking, and will continue to take all possible measures to protect their staff and operations in these ever more difficult contexts by adapting their operational and risk mitigation strategies, and striving to abide by humanitarian principles. However, we believe that more can and must urgently be done by the international community to strengthen the international protection framework for all humanitarian workers. We need to move from words to action to end impunity for attacks against humanitarians.
To this end, we call on the Security Council of the United Nations to create a reporting, monitoring and investigation mechanism that – while preserving humanitarian space – would make attacks against humanitarians a systematic trigger for action aimed at enhancing judicial cooperation so as to bring perpetrators to justice and deterring future attacks.
Ultimately, we strongly believe attacks against humanitarians are also an affront against the values that are the commonwealth of humanity that we must all protect.
JOIN THIS APPEAL
Since the attack against the United Nations in Baghdad on August 19th 2003 over 5,000 national and international humanitarian aid workers have been victims of violence, of whom over 1,800 have been killed. Last year was the deadliest year on record for humanitarians, with 484 humanitarian aid workers victims of major attacks, of whom 124 died, 234 were wounded and 124 kidnapped.
In the face of this dramatic increase in attacks against humanitarian personnel and the impunity that too often prevails for their perpetrators, it is essential to improve prevention by increasing the political cost for perpetrators of attacks against humanitarians (including States) through the accurate establishment of facts, increased visibility for each attack, and the activation of investigation mechanisms and other preventive measures; and to help ensure justice is done through greater judicial cooperation between States, improved investigation capacity, and the strengthening of States' legislative frameworks.
This is to be done at all levels and with all duty bearers. The 10 September Call for Action is part of this broader drive, pushing for such measures to be adopted at Security Council level in a manner that does not weaken humanitarian space in any way, not impede action based on humanitarian principles, and remains consistent with international law, the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid of 2007 and the Franco-German Call for Action on Humanitarian Aid of 2019.
Given the challenging dynamics at the Security Council at the current time, it is suggested, as a first step, to work towards the organization of an Arria formula meeting in the first half of 2021 on the theme of the fight against impunity and the prevention of attacks, in order to socialize and test the ground with Member States on the elements of a possible new resolution.
In parallel, it is important for humanitarian actors to work together to identify and push other measures that could help reinforce protection for civilians and humanitarian aid workers at global, European and national level.
NGO LIST OF SIGNATORIES
63 organisations have signed up to the Call for Action:
Ayuda en Accion
CESVI - Cooperazione e sviluppo
Helvetas Swis Intercooperation
HIVOS - Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking
NRC - Norwegian Refugee Council
PIN - People in Need
FONAHD RDC - Forum des Organisations Nationales Humanitaires et de Développement
Titi Foundation South Sudan
Humanitarian Aid International - India
Ohaha Family Foundation
Engineering Association for Development & Environment-EADE
Shoulder for Gender Support and Development Initiative
Children's Voice DRC
La Chaîne de l'Espoir
International Aid Services (IAS) Niger
We Love Sousse
DRC - Danish Refugee Council
JRS - Jesuit Refugee Service
International Catholic Migration Commission
Anna Lindh Network - Palestine
Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
Polish Medical Mission
Sousse Demain Association
CEFE NET Sri Lanka
PGVS India - Poorvanchal Gramon Vikash Sansthan
ONG Adkoul - Niger
ONG Akarass- Niger
AREN - Association pour la Redynamisation de l'Elevage au Niger
ADRA International (Adventist Development and Relief Agency International)
ONG GADER (Groupe d'Action pour le Développement Rural)
Integrated Volunteers Network (IVN), Delhi
Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) -Germany
Johanniter International Assistance
Human Health Aid Burundi
Food for the Hungry Philippines
Futureinourhands - Sri Lanka
Jireh Doo Foundation and NINGONET
Secours Islamique France
IDEAS (Island Development and Environmental Awareness Society) - Maldives
Foundation for Rural Development (FRD) - Pakistan
COOPI - Cooperazione Internazionale
ATAC (Association Tunisienne d'Action Culturelle)
DCA - DanChurchAid
Première Urgence Internationale
HELP US END IMPUNITY FOR ATTACKS AGAINST HUMANITARIANS