Some reflections on humanitarian principles applicable in relief actions
Etudes et essais sur le droit international humanitaire et sur les principes de la Croix-Rouge : en l'honneur de Jean Pictet = Studies and essays on international humanitarian law and Red Cross principles : in honour of Jean Pictet
Genève : CICR ; La Haye : Nijhoff, 1984
The author argues that the international community requires legal principles that support cooperation in response to natural disasters, because of the suffering disasters cause and the threat they pose to peace. For the author, those legal principles should entrench international solidarity, or the binding obligation states have to one another to supply assistance. Disaster relief principles should be based upon relief practices already employed and encompass three levels: a theoretical level focused on basic moral values underlying the law, a level of substantive legal principles based on texts such as the Geneva Conventions 1949, and a technical level concerned with modes of effective relief delivery. The author suggests that humanitarian law governing relief during armed-conflict and also international human rights law can provide guidance. Yet the author cautions that choosing only certain rights as the foundation of relief principles risks politicizing and distorting international human rights law, which assumes the interdependency and indivisibility of rights, As well, some ethical values underlying human rights norms may not be entirely universal. Finally, the author notes that resolutions from diplomatic conferences, such as those guaranteeing rights to initiate relief action, should also inform legal principles. [Summary by students at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law (IHRP)].