This article aims to examine the existing rules and principles contained within the international humanitarian law (IHL) legal framework, in particular the protections afforded to humanitarian workers and health care workers under the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols. It commences with an examination of the definition of relief workers, moves to discuss the implications of the increased political use of humanitarian aid and then reviews the legal framework within which this sector is located. The multi-dimensional nature of current conflicts, in particular as they pertain to health care workers, requires an examination of both human rights and IHL. In conclusion this paper argues that for the effective protection of affected communities much more should be done by all those engaged in conflict including ending impunity for attacks on humanitarian relief workers and material, and medical personnel, supplies and facilities, as well as the encouragement of further debate and discussion on the topic.
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