Guarding rights

Depending on their specific circumstances and capacities, National Societies can take on additional humanitarian tasks that are not directly defined by international humanitarian law or the mandates of the international Movement.
Guarding rights
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The mandate of humanitarian law is to protect the life and dignity of the victims of international and internal conflicts. This activity can be done in collaboration with the National Societies, relief assistance missions at the time of large scale emergencies. Depending on their specific circumstances and capacities, National Societies can take on additional humanitarian tasks that are not directly defined by international humanitarian law or the mandates of the international Movement. 

Seven fundamental principles are shared by all components of the Movement. These are :1-Humanity 2-Impartiality,3- Neutrality 4-Independence 5-Voluntary Service,6-Unity and 7-Universality. The core tasks of the Committee include monitoring compliance of Geneva  Conventions, organising medical  care the  wounded on the battlefield, supervising  the treatment of POWS (Prisoners of war), helping in  the search for missing persons in an armed conflict, protecting  civil populations, arbitration between  warring parties in an armed conflict etc.

While as a debate has ensued among the experts about the neutrality ideals of IHL movement. For example, Thomas G. Weiss thinks that the tragedies of the past decade have led to an identity crisis among humanitarians. Respecting traditional principles of neutrality and impartiality and operating procedures based on consent has created as many problems as it has solved. A debate is raging between "classicists," who believe that humanitarian action can be insulated from politics, and various "political humanitarians," who are attempting to use  the classicists, led by the International Committee of the Red Cross, who believe that humanitarian action can and should be completely insulated from politics; the "minimalists," who "aim to do no harm" in delivering relief; the "maximalists," who have a more ambitious agenda of employing humanitarian action as part of a comprehensive strategy to transform conflict; and the "solidarists," exemplified by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), who choose sides and abandon neutrality and impartiality as well as reject consent as a prerequisite for intervention. The experts argue that there is no longer any need to ask whether politics and humanitarian action intersect. The real question is how this intersection can be managed to ensure more humanized politics and more effective humanitarian action.

One of the growing worries is that the influence of a national government can be checked in some manner but specific problems, in particular with respect to non-state actors, remain unsolved, because to check their influences and range of operation in this volatile situation is very difficult. 

Moreover, the lack of legal advocacy in some causes affects the confidence in the law to improve the protection of victims of armed conflicts. Because in advocacy of some cases is hampered by political or at times religious considerations thus the impact remains negative in most cases.

Last but not the least impediment in the proper fruitioning of IHL objectives is the reality that the predominantly Western nature of the humanitarian apparatus clash with the Universalist values that it purports to convey and by ignoring alternate perceptions [for example Islamic]? Attacks against NGOs, the UN and even the ICRC in Afghanistan and Iraq underline a newly perceived reality: the universality of humanitarian values is not universally accepted or understood.

Therefore in light of the above observations, we need to revisit IHL provisions and try to make these more culturally specific and universally applicable by involving non-European perspectives of humanitarian assistance enshrined in religious legacy of Islam and other religions and, make this otherwise useful activity more suited to the emerging circumstances where old perceptions about law and its observance are face to face with horrendous challenges in wake of privatisation of war and cyber war fare.  

(Abstract of author's presentation at a three-day Advanced International Humanitarian Law South Asia Academic Training (AISAAT) conducted by Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi  in collaboration with ICRC Regional Delegation New Delhi  from 17th to 19th November 2015)

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