Relief workers : the hazards of offering humanitarian assistance in the theatre of war
Host item entries:
South African yearbook of international law, Vol. 35, 2010, p. 56-79
In this piece the author will unpack the legal status of relief workers under international humanitarian law (IHL) deployed to the theatre of international armed conflicts. In undertaking this investigation, the author will begin with a brief discussion of the definitional requirement of neutrality, and explore the legal implications and limitations that default civilian status might have for relief workers. She considers, briefly, the unsuccessful attempts at granting relief workers special protection by virtue of international treaty law. She then turns to explore the issue of whether the actions of relief workers might in fact amount to unlawful, direct participation in hostilities, and what consequences might flow from this possible conclusion in light of the 'ICRC's Interpretive guide on direct participation in hostilities'. In conclusion, she examines the risk of detention and prosecution in when belligerents detain relief workers on the suspicion that they might be participating directly in hostilities.
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