On 25 November 2022, the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies organized a workshop on "Six years after the Agenda for Humanity: humanitarianism challenged".
The event convened a range of participants including international scholars from various disciplinary fields, representatives of humanitarian organizations, and humanitarian practitioners and policymakers. The Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies discussed in its intervention "International Humanitarian Law in Crisis" the challenges facing humanitarian work resulting from a lack of enforcement of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in contemporary conflicts. The intervention focused on the protective nature of IHL on behalf of civilian populations and civilian properties in times armed conflicts and the accountability of conflicting parties.
The one-day event highlighted the changes in international and domestic politics altering humanitarian commitments six years after the adoption of the Agenda for Humanity at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul 2016. It included four panels in which discussion focused on the implications of the agenda's core responsibilities and the power dynamics shaping the humanitarian field globally and in particular contexts.
Dr. Iyad Nasr, a visiting researcher at CHS, delivered an intervention on the implementation and commitment status of IHL in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Ukraine. He stated that in wars and conflict areas such as Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflict zones, IHL is needed despite the challenges facing its applicability and lack of enforcement and low rate of implementation. He also explained that IHL finds itself in a crisis due to the lack of international will to implement and enforce its rules. He stressed that international humanitarian law has proven its ineffectuality when dealing with major powers' practices. Thus, it is better for all members of the international community to adhere to a system of rules, even when there are short-term incentives to defect.
Dr. Iyad called for re-engaging the legitimate interpretation of international law that limits and governs how, where, when and how much force to use and to restress the need to avoid direct and indirect use of force against the protected persons and objects. In sum, it is time to discuss the well-known issues preventing IHL's implementation and come up with practical solutions.
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