Beyond the Headlines: An agenda for action to protect civilians in neglected conflicts | International Humanitarian Law | Aids

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Since the atrocities of September 11th 2001, the leaders of the major international powers have been focused upon confronting what they perceive as the greatest threat to world security: the combination of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism. At the 2003 G8 summit in France, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States agreed that this combination posed the greatest current threat to world security. Oxfam is calling for the UN Security Council and global leaders to galvanise the entire international community to take action more consistently, both to protect civilians and to ensure the impartial delivery of humanitarian aid on the basis of need, rather than political priority.
  Beyond the headlines An agenda for action to protectcivilians in neglected conflicts B e y on d t h  eh  e a d l  i  n e sAn a g en d  af  or  a ct i   ont  o pr  ot  e ct  ci  vi  l  i   an si  nn e gl   e ct  e d  c onf l  i   ct  s  Executive Summary21.Introduction 62.Protecting civilians in conflict10 Indifference to gross violations of international humanitarian law11How the major powers themselves perform13Falling short ofwider protection responsibilities:arming and training abusers14Seeking Solutions:reaffirming the rule ofinternational humanitarian law15Negotiating humanitarian access16Diplomatic pressure to protect civilians17Peacekeeping and peace-enforcement18Holding war criminals to account20Controlling arms20Making progress:the role ofthe UN 22Recommendations23 3.Humanitarian aid:driven more by politics than need26 Critical funding shortfalls26Inadequate and skewed funding27Political hotspots and neglected crises29 A case offleeting attention30The role ofmajor donor governments 31Earmarking:favouritism in practice 33The scale ofmissing information:a scandal ofaccountability 33The Humanitarian Financing Studies34Results ofresearch:the donor-funding whole is worth less than the sum ofits parts35Steps forward:Good Donorship Principles & Implementation Plan 35Building protection into assessments,and the role ofthe UN37Recommendations37 4.Protecting those displaced by conflict:reinforcing refugee rights40  Asylum:worrying moves to restrict protection41Discrimination in the wake ofthe ‘war on terror’43Insecurity in asylum:where protection fails44Recommendations45 5.Conclusion:Reinforcing an international systemto protect civilians in conflict48 Summary ofRecommendations50 Endnotes52References54   Table ofContents This report was written by Amelia Bookstein. The author would like to thank all Oxfam staff, partners and the academic experts who helped in its production. In particular, she would like toacknowledge the contributions or support from the following people: Andrew Bonwick, Jamie Balfour-Paul, Ed Cairns,Constantino Casasbuenas, James Darcy, JohnFairhurst, Andy Hill, Joanne Macrae, JenniferMcAvoy, Jan Penrose, Roxane Philson, JudithRandel, Nicola Reindorp, Bernice Romero, PaulSmith-Lomas, Hugo Slim, and Sophia Swithern. The text was edited by Anna Coryndon and was designed by David Riera, Katharine Smith and Carol Byrne. Front cover photo: Crispin Hughes/OxfamBack cover photo: Howard Davies/OxfamPublished by Oxfam GB on behalf of Oxfam International.Oxfam GB is a member of Oxfam International. Registered Charity No. 202918© Oxfam International 2003 Acknowledgements:  3 is to provide funding without diverting resources from themillions of people affected by other emergencies. We also know from our experience of working in dozens of conflicts that what civilians in wars need is not primarilymoney. It is peace. Until peace is possible, however, ensur-ing the protection of civilians is crucial. All governmentshave duties under international humanitarian law to protectcivilians from the worst ravages of war, to allow them to live free from violence, coercion, and deprivation. Yet the international community is failing to provide thatprotection for most children, women, and men caught up in today’s conflicts.There is no one-size-fits-all action to protect civilians, butinternational engagement is critical. There is a range of actions that the international community must pursue moreconsistently. Strong diplomatic pressure will be required attimes for the difficult negotiations to secure access for civil-ians to humanitarian aid behind the lines of fire. In extremecases, it may be necessary to contribute troops to a UN-man-dated mission to enforce a ceasefire and to protect civilians.In all cases, states must act to prevent the supply of armsfrom fuelling conflicts or contributing to the abuse of human rights. The UN Security Council, and particularly the five perma-nent members, has a critical responsibility to safeguard inter-national peace and security. Their duty is not only to tacklethe greatest threats to the industrialized world, but also touphold international law to protect the lives and dignity of allcivilians suffering in some 42 violent conflicts around theworld. They are falling far short of this goal. Since the atrocities of September 11th 2001, the leaders of the major international powers have been focused upon confronting what they perceive as the greatest threat to worldsecurity: the combination of weapons of mass destructionand international terrorism. At the 2003 G8 summit inFrance, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States agreedthat this combination posed the greatest current threat toworld security. Though those threats are very real, terror is nothing new formillions of people caught up in the world’s seeminglyintractable conflicts. Rebels and governments alike have beenterrifying civilians for years in too many civil conflicts.Oxfam and our partners already witness mass destruction:from Sudan to Colombia, Liberia to Indonesia, millions of people continue to be killed, raped, injured, or forced to fleetheir homes. Gender, age, ethnicity and other factors areassociated with suffering in distinct ways. For example, menare in danger of being killed or abducted for fighting, whileyoung girls can be kidnapped as labourers or sex slaves. For decades, these conflicts have caused much more deathand destruction than has terrorism. Since 2001, there havebeen trends which may have made civilians even more vulnerable than before: 1.Warringparties targetingcivilians. Direct attacks on civilians are part of the harsh reality of most conflicts across the globe. From Liberia to Uganda,Chechnya to Colombia, international humanitarian law is notadequately upheld or enforced by the international communi-ty, and the suffering of civilians continues unabated. Theattention given to the ‘war on terror’ threatens to eclipse thissuffering still further, as warring parties carry out their fight-ing with impunity. And while recent US and UK-led militaryoperations in Iraq and Afghanistan have attempted to mini-mize the negative impact of their actions on civilians, theyhave, in Oxfam’s view, failed to uphold the highest standardsof international law designed to protect non-combatants. 2.Substantial humanitarianaidfor ‘priority’cases,verylittle for the rest. Donor governments rapidly donated some US $2bn to post-war Iraq. This represents about $74 per person in need. Bycontrast, donors only gave $17 per person to the DemocraticRepublic of Congo, and $7 per person to Indonesia. Lookingat the totals donated to emergencies, the difference is strik-ing. The same donors that rapidly came up with the billionsfor Iraq claim a shortage of funds when failing to respond tothe humanitarian appeals for Burundi, Guinea, and themajority of other countries in crisis, although these appealsare looking for just one per cent of the amount of money. 3.Humanrights considerations beingoverriddeninthe fight against terror. In the year following September 11th 2001, the US govern-ment requested some US$ 3.8bn in military aid fromCongress to 67 governments to support counter-terrorism,although half of those governments were criticized by the USState Department for their poor human rights records. 4.The independence andimpartialityof humanitarianaidunder threat. A dangerous precedent is being set by moves by coalitionforces to use the military to distribute humanitarian relief inparts of Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, the draft EU con-stitution dangerously entangles humanitarian aid with acounter-terrorism agenda. In wars across the world, thisinfringement of the space for impartial humanitarian actioncould inhibit the distribution of humanitarian aid on thebasis of need. It could even result in aid agencies or the peo-ple they assist being targeted for attack.From our work around the world, Oxfam has observed thehigh human cost as the international community abandonscivilians to struggle through conflict unaided. Oxfam believesthat it is time to refocus international attention on the con-flicts that kill and impoverish millions of people year in, yearout; conflicts in most ways unrelated to the events since2001. The international community currently responds tothese crises in an inconsistent way in terms of both politicaland diplomatic commitment, and of humanitarian aid. Oxfamis callingfor the UNSecurityCouncil andglobal leadersto galvanise the entire international communityto take actionmore consistently,bothto protect civilians andto ensure theimpartial deliveryofhumanitarianaidonthe basis ofneed,rather thanpolitical priority. Nearly half of all the funds given by donor governments in2002 to the UN’s twenty-five humanitarian appeals went tojust one country, Afghanistan – a desperately poor place butone that was also top of the list of priorities in the ‘war onterror.’ The remaining 24 countries had to struggle by onwhat was left. This pattern of unequal funding recurs yearafter year. While Oxfam is not advocating a reduction infunding to any emergency where there is need, the challenge 2 Executive Summary The international community should reaffirmits commitment to the international humanitarian lawthat it hassigned up to.In particular,Oxfamcalls for the following actions: ãThe international community– ledbythe UNSecurityCouncil – must developstrategies to engage more consistentlywithseeminglyintractable conflicts to helpprotect civilians inneglectedcrises. All possible tools must be made available, includingintense diplomacy, support for the negotiation of access for humanitarian aid, and in extreme cases, the contribution of troopsto UN-led peacekeeping missions with strong mandates to protect civilians. In addition, governments and the UN shouldimplement new systematic procedures to ensure that they assess how to best protect vulnerable civilians in all crises. ãGovernments andwarringparties must plantheir militarytactics to safeguardcivilians. Any military action must distinguishbetween military targets and civilians, and only direct attacks against the former. In any event, all precautions must be taken tominimize harm to civilians, and force used must be proportionate to the military gains anticipated. All warring parties mustensure that free passage is given to humanitarian aid throughout the conflict. All signatories to the Geneva Conventions havean obligation to press others around the world to do the same. They must absolutely refrain from encouraging, tolerating, orarming allies who are committing abuses. ãDonor governments must demonstrate that theyare givinghumanitarianaidbasedonneed,not onpolitical priority. Theymust commit to consistent and adequate funding for all emergencies, with a particular emphasis on effectively funding neglected crises. In particular, they must take concrete steps to implement the plan of action from the June 2003 GoodDonorship conference, including support for the proposal to develop a system-wide analysis of risk and need as proposed bythe UK Overseas Development Institute. ãGovernments must at all times recognize andpreserve the independent,impartial andciviliancharacter ofhumanitarianaid. In light of the changing political landscape brought on by the struggle against terrorism, this is critically important as the lines of responsibility between civilian humanitarian actors and those of the military are becoming blurred. In many cases theprotection of civilians, the access of communities to humanitarian aid, and the safety of humanitarian aid workers dependupon preserving this distinction between civilians and the military. ãGovernments must make increased,sustained,andequitable investment inaddressingthe causes offorcedmigrationandsupportingdurable solutions for refugees andasylumseekers. The EU must ensure that these efforts are not reserved for only those countries and regions that are currently the sources of large numbers of asylum seekers. The efforts of Western governments must focus on finding durable solutions for asylum seeking and refugee populations, rather than trying to shrugoff their existing commitments. ãHumanitarianagencies – NGOs,the ICRC,andthe UN- must constantlystrive for quality,accountability,andefficiencyintheiractions to protect andassist civilians. Building on initiatives such as Sphere and the Humanitarian Accountability Project(HAP), agencies must make concrete steps to ensure impartial delivery of humanitarian assistance, and increased accountabili-ty towards the people they seek to assist.  1 Introduction This Afghan woman is passing in front ofwall paintings oflandmines and grenades,which continue to maimand kill people in the country.Suffering years ofwar,drought and international isolation,Afghanistanwas a neglected emergency before the events ofSeptember 11th.    P   h  o   t  o  :   J  e  n  n  y   M  a   t   t   h  e  w  s   /   O  x   f  a  m
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