Often in modern conflicts, “civilians are the preferred targets, the propagation of terror is the premeditated tactic and the physical elimination or mass displacement of certain categories of population is the overarching strategy,” the UN Security Council was told yesterday. UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Sergio Vieira de Mello, in a public briefing, said that in this environment, even low-intensity conflicts generate disproportionate humanitarian need.
The legal framework for humanitarian action is more extensive than ever before, but the gap between norms and respect for them has never been wider, Vieira de Mello continued. The UN Security Council has, nevertheless, on a number of occasions, made an explicit link between its core mandate for international peace and security, and violations of humanitarian law and human rights. Vieira De Mello, the UN’s top humanitarian official, was briefing the council during a special open session on humanitarian activities on Thursday.
If a state is unable to fulfill their obligations to assist victims of armed conflict, then it is obliged to facilitate the provision of non-political and impartial international humanitarian aid. Vieira De Mello asked the council to reaffirm these principles “both in a generic and country-specific manner.” Imposing “smart” sanctions that do not lead to humanitarian crises, fostering fair media in conflict areas, and curbing the flow of arms were among measures that could be considered for promoting peace and security, the Under-Secretary-General said.
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