Humanitarian assistance

IHL recognizes that the civilian population of a State affected by an armed conflict is entitled to receive humanitarian assistance. It regulates, in particular, the conditions for providing humanitarian assistance in the form of food, medicines, medical equipment, or other vital supplies to civilians in need.




UN, Security Council Resolution on the Conflict in Syria

ICJ, Nicaragua v. United States (Paras 242 and 243)

UN, Secretary-General’s Reports on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

UN, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Principle 24(1))

UN Security Council, Sanctions Imposed Upon Iraq, (Part B.)

UN, Security Council Resolution 688 on Northern Iraq, (Para. 3)

UN, UN Forces in Somalia

UN, Secretary-General’s Reports on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (Part B., Paras. 58-60)

The International Criminal Court (Part A., Art. 8(2)(b)(iii))

France, Accession to Protocol I (Part B., Para. 17)

Armed Conflicts in the former Yugoslavia (3 and 13), (13 and 36)

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Constitution of Safe Areas in 1992-1993

Israel, Power Cuts in Gaza, Israel, (Part A., Paras. 15-17)

Israel/Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (Part II, Paras. 311-3261305-1331)

Sri Lanka, Conflict in the Vanni (Paras. 24-26)

ICRC, Assistance Policy

ICRC, Protection of War Victims (Para. 3.3.)

ICRC’s Approach to Contemporary Security Challenges

ICRC, Iran/Iraq, Memoranda

First Periodical Meeting, Chairman’s Report (Part II. 1)

Gaza: Health situation in the Gaza Strip

Yemen, Obstructing Medical Care

Health Care in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Somalia, the fate of Children in the conflict

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health

Israel, Blockade of Gaza and the Flotilla Incident

United States of America, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

UN, Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit

ICRC, International Humanitarian Law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts in 2015 (Paras. 130, 132, 136, 148, 149)

Libya, Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2014/15)

Yemen: Naval Blockade

Yemen, Potential Existence and Effects of Naval Blockade

Syria, the Battle for Aleppo

ICRC, Statement - War in Cities ; What is at Stake?

Eastern Ukraine, OHCHR Report on the Situation: November 2016 - February 2017

South Sudan, Attack in Malakal UN Protection Site

Central African Republic/Democratic Republic of Congo/Uganda, LRA attacks


Suggested readings:
BARBER Rebecca, “Facilitating Humanitarian Assistance in International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law”, in IRRC, Vol. 91, No. 874, June 2009, pp. 371-399.
BRAUMAN Rony, L’action humanitaire, Paris, Flammarion, 2000.
International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, The Responsibility to Protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Ottawa, International Development Research Centre, 2001, 91 pp., online:
LUOPAJÄRVI Katja, “Is There an Obligation on States to Accept International Humanitarian Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons under International Law?”, in International Journal of Refugee Law, Vol. 15/4, 2004, pp. 678-714.
MACALISTER-SMITH Peter, International Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Relief Actions in International Law and Organization, Dordrecht/Geneva, M. Nijhoff /Henry-Dunant Institute, 1985, 244 pp.
MOORE Jonathan (ed.), Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention, New York, Rownan and Littlefield, 1998, 322 pp.
PASQUIER André, “Action humanitaire : une légitimité en question ?”, in IRRC, No. 842, June 2001, 311-321.
PEJIC Jelena, “The Right to Food in Situations of Armed Conflict: The Legal Framework”, in IRRC, No. 844, December 2001, pp. 1097-1110.
ROTTENSTEINER Christa, “The Denial of Humanitarian Assistance as a Crime under International Law”, in IRRC, No. 835, September 1999, pp. 555-582.
RYFMAN Philippe, L’action humanitaire, Paris, La Documentation française, coll. Problèmes politiques et sociaux. Dossiers d’actualité mondiale, No. 864, October 2001, 84 pp.
RYNIKER Anne, “The ICRC’s Position on ‘Humanitarian Intervention’”, in IRRC, No. 842, June 2001, pp. 527-532.
ZANETTI Véronique, L’intervention humanitaire : droits des individus, devoirs des États, Genève, Labor et Fides, 2008, 345 pp.
Further readings:
BELLAMY Alex J., Responsibility to Protect: the Global Effort to End Mass Atrocities, Cambridge, Polity, 2009, 249 pp.
BETTATI Mario & KOUCHNER Bernard, Le devoir d’ingérence, peut-on les laisser mourir ?, Paris, Denoël, 1987, 300 pp.
BINDSCHEDLER-ROBERT Denise, “Actions of Assistance in Non-international Conflicts – Art. 18 of Protocol II”, in European Seminar on Humanitarian Law (Jagellonean University, Krakow, 1979), Warsaw/Geneva, Polish Red Cross, ICRC, Geneva, 1979, pp. 71-85.
BOISSON DE CHAZOURNES Laurence & CONDORELLI Luigi, “Quelles perspectives pour la responsabilité de protéger ?”, in Les droits de l’homme et la constitution : études en l’honneur du professeur Giorgio Malinverni, Geneva, Schulthess, 2007, pp. 329-337.
BOTHE Michael, “Relief Actions: The Position of the Recipient State”, in KALSHOVEN Frits (ed.), Assisting the Victims of Armed Conflict and Other Disasters, Dordrecht, M. Nijhoff, 1989, pp. 91-98.
CHOMSKY Noam, The New Military Humanism : Lessons from Kosovo, Monroe, Common Courage Press, 1999, 199 pp.
CORTEN Olivier & KLEIN Pierre, Droit d’ingérence ou obligation de réaction ?, 2nd ed., Brussels, Bruylant, 1996, 309 pp.
DENNE Sarah R., “Re-Thinking Humanitarian Aid in the Post-Gulf War Era: the International Committee of the Red Cross Takes the Lead”, in Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2007, pp. 867-895.
DOMESTICI-MET Marie-José, “Aspects juridiques récents de l’assistance humanitaire”, in AFDI, 1989, pp. 117-148.
DOMESTICI-MET Marie-José, “Aspects récents du droit et de l’assistance humanitaires”, in L’observateur des Nations Unies, No. 10, printemps-été 2001, pp. 1-99.
EVANS Gareth, The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All, Washington, Brookings Institution Press, 2008, 349 pp.
HOFMANN Claudia, “Engaging Non-State Armed Groups in Humanitarian Action”, in International Peacekeeping, Vol. 13, No. 3, September 2006, pp. 396-409.
JAKOVLJEVIC Bosko, “The Right to Humanitarian Assistance: Legal Aspects”, in IRRC, No. 259, 1987, pp. 469-484.
KWAKWA Edward, “Internal Conflicts in Africa: Is There a Right of Humanitarian Action?”, in African Yearbook of International Law, 1994, pp. 9-46.
KRÄHENBÜHL Pierre, “Conflict in the Balkans: Human Tragedies and the Challenge to Independent Humanitarian Action”, in IRRC, No. 837, March 2000, pp. 11-29.
MACALISTER-SMITH Peter, “Protection of the Civilian Population and the Prohibition of Starvation as a Method of Warfare – Draft Texts on International Humanitarian Assistance”, in IRRC, No. 283, September-October 1991, pp. 440-459.
MICHELETTI Pierre, Humanitaire : s’adapter ou renoncer, Paris, Marabout, 2008, 245 pp.
MINEAR Larry & WEISS Thomas G., Mercy under Fire, War and the Global Humanitarian Community, Oxford/San Francisco, Boulder/Westview Press, 1995, 260 pp.
PATTISON James, “Whose Responsibility to Protect?: the Duties of Humanitarian Intervention”, in Journal of Military Ethics, Vol. 7, Issue 4, 2008, pp. 262-283.
PATTISON James, “Humanitarian Intervention, the Responsibility to Protect and Jus in Bello”, in Global Responsibility to Protect, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2009, pp. 364-391.
PEROUSE DE MONTCLOS Marc-Antoine, L’aide humanitaire, aide à la guerre ?, Brussels, Complexe, 2001, 207 pp.
PFANNER Tony, “Asymmetrical Warfare from the Perspective of Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Action”, in IRRC, Vol. 87, No. 865, March 2005, pp. 149-174.
PLATTNER Denise, “Assistance to the Civilian Population: The Development and Present State of International Humanitarian Law”, in IRRC, No. 288, May-June 1992, pp. 249-263.
PLATTNER Denise, “ICRC Neutrality and Neutrality in Humanitarian Assistance”, in IRRC, No. 818, March-April 1996, pp. 161-179.
REFSLUND SORENSEN Birgitte, “Violence and Humanitarian Assistance: Reflections on an Intricate Relationship”, in Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, September 2006, 24 pp.
REY Francisco, CARBONNIER Gilles & BOUCHET-SAULNIER Françoise, Puertas cerradas: el acceso a la víctimas en la acción humanitaria, Barcelona, Icaria, 2001, 214 pp.
RUSSBACH Rémi & FINK Daniel, “Humanitarian Action in Current Armed Conflicts: Opportunities and Obstacles”, in Medicine and Global Survival, Vol. 1/4, 1994, pp. 188-199.
SANDOZ Yves, “‘Droit’ or ‘devoir d’ingérence’ and the right to assistance: the issues involved”, in IRRC, No. 288, June 1992, pp. 215-227.
SANDVIK-NYLUND Monika, Caught in Conflicts: Civilian Victims, Humanitarian Assistance and International Law, Turku/Åbo, Åbo Akademi University, Institute for Human Rights, 2003, 2nd ed., 174 pp.
SHOTWELL B. Charles, “Food and the Use of Force, the Role of Humanitarian Principles in the Persian Gulf Crisis and Beyond”, in Revue de Droit Pénal et de Criminologie, Vol. 30, 1999, pp. 347-377.
SLIM Hugo, “Doing the Right Thing: Relief Agencies, Moral Dilemmas and Moral Responsibility in Political Emergencies and Wars”, in Studies on Emergencies and Disaster Relief, No. 6, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala, 1997, 18 pp.
STOFFELS Ruth-Abril, “Legal Regulation of Humanitarian Assistance in Armed Conflict: Achievements and Gaps”, in IRRC, No. 855, September 2004, pp. 514-546.
STUDER Meinrad, “The ICRC and Civil-Military Relations in Armed Conflict”, in IRRC, No. 842, June 2001, pp. 367-391.
SUHRKE Astri & KLUSMEYER Douglas, “Between Principles and Politics: Lessons from Iraq for Humnaitarian Action”, in Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 17, No. 3, 2004, pp. 273-285.
WILLS Siobhan, “Military Interventions on Behalf of Vulnerable Populations: The Legal Responsibilities of States and International Organizations Engaged in Peace Support Operations”, in Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 9-3, Winter 2004, pp. 387-418.
ZWITTER Andrej, “Humanitarian Action on the Battlefields of Global War on Terror”, The Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, October 2008, pp. 1-23.