The legal framework for protection of United Nations humanitarian premises during armed conflict
Host item entries:
Max Planck yearbook of United Nations law, Vol. 18, issue 1, 2014, p. 68-108
The United Nations, its premises and personnel are increasingly present in the theatre of armed conflict across the globe. During armed conflict, UN humanitarian agencies are now more likely to stay or arrive and deliver than to evacuate. Parties to an armed conflict may fight in close proximity to UN premises. Today, from the Gaza Strip to South Sudan to Syria, during armed conflict thousands of displaced civilians seek shelter in UN premises and the protection of the blue UN flag, which is perceived to give better protection than fundamental principles of international humanitarian law (IHL). What is the legal framework for protection offered by the UN flag to UN humanitarian premises, including to displaced civilians they may shelter during armed conflict? To use the language of State responsibility, this paper considers the relevant primary obligations of IHL and UN law, how a possible conflict between those primary obligations is resolved, and then considers the legal consequences of a breach of the relevant primary obligation in accordance with the secondary rules of the law of State responsibility.
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