Engaging with all actors of violence : necessity, duty and dilemmas from an ICRC delegate's perspective
Principled engagement : negotiating human rights in repressive states
Farnham : Burlington : Ashgate, 2013
The ICRC works to promote better respect of international humanitarian law (IHL) and other legal norms protecting civilians and people hors de combat and, for that purpose, seeks to establish direct dialogue with all actors in situations of armed conflict or other situations of violence, regardless of their ideological stance or human rights record. In this respect it can be considered a "principle engager". This chapter argues - in line with the ICRC's institutional position - for the necessity for the ICRC to be able to access and engage meaningfully with all actors in situations of violence, including with opposition armed groups. This is a long practice that derives from the organisation's unique mandate and from the fact that IHL binds all parties to an armed conflict (including non-state actors), as opposed to human rights laws which are binding only on states parties. Nevertheless, it must be recognised that the ICRC's stance is not always an easy one to maintain. Thus, this contribution details some of the dilemmas and challenges that ICRC delegates encounter in the field.