Sub-Saharan Africa

Behind the doors of the most inºuential human rights organizations in the world, a crisis has been forming. It is a crisis that has become more acute with the increased global media, military, and economic focus on the Middle East/Muslim world since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Over the last decade, the United Nations (“U.N.”) has taken a central role in the international community’s response to the consequences of disasters and armed conºicts. Increasingly, international strategies to cope with instability and armed conºicts rely on the deployment of the staff of U.N.

By all accounts, demographic pressures in the Gaza Strip — in terms of population density, age structure, and growth rate — are extraordinarily high compared to neighboring countries and regions. This population pressure, combined with limited resources and territorial isolation, places immense strain on public services, social and political institutions, and the natural environment.

Humanitarian organizations operate in increasingly hostile environments.

The Israeli re-invasion of Gaza this July has redrawn the world’s attention to the dire straits of the population living in the Gaza Strip. There, within an area the size of the Isle of Wight, 1.4 million people live without free access to the outside world.

This paper examines the relationship between the legal framework of international humanitarian law (IHL) and civil society actors operating in conflict situations. Attention is paid to assessing the manner in which the latter can play a role in strengthening the humanitarian dimension of the former.

This policy brief reviews the legal questions associated with the participation of civilians in hostilities. This issue represents a critical challenge to the protection of civilians in current conflicts, particularly when hostilities are conducted in the midst of civilian populations and assets, and when non-state armed groups are engaged as central actors.

The rising importance of non-state armed groups is heightened by three post-Cold War phenomena: the increased fragmentation of states into smaller self-governing entities, the augmented privatization of warfare, and, by virtue of the expansion of global communication networks, the inflated accountability of states towards non-state actors.

A vital component of humanitarian action is the coordination among all actors involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Coordination within this field allows for the most efficient, cost effective, and successful operations possible.

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