Denying humanitarian access as an international crime in times of non-international armed conflict : the challenges to prosecute and some proposals for the future
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Israel law review, Vol. 48, no. 3, November 2015, p. 281-307
Impeding humanitarian access and the starving of civilians is prohibited under international humanitarian law in times of both international and non-international armed conflicts. Such conduct is criminalised under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC Statute) when committed during an international armed conflict. However, without good reason, it is not a war crime when committed during a non-international armed conflict. Contemporary conflicts, such as that in Syria, show that this is a problematic omission. This article addresses the challenges in prosecuting the denial of humanitarian access during international armed conflicts and examines the options to prosecute before the International Criminal Court such denial in times of non-international armed conflict as other war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The author concludes that these options would not suffice and proposes to add to the ICC Statute the starvation of the civilian population, including through impeding humanitarian access, as a war crime for non-international armed conflicts.
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