Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Monday, November 20, 2017 03:38:24 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Providing humanitarian aid during civil wars

By
08th-Jan-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Jonathan Kennedy and Domna Michailidou :
In recent months, nongovernmental organizations and journalists have accused the United Nations of bias toward Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and failure to distribute humanitarian aid to rebel-controlled areas of Syria.
The UN does work closely with the Syrian government, and humanitarian aid has not consistently reached areas outside of government control. But the detractors overlook an inherent contradiction in the UN's responsibilities in countries facing civil war.
According to the UN Charter, one of the organization's purposes is to coordinate relief operations during and after disasters of a "humanitarian character" in which national authorities cannot cope on their own. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has overall responsibility for the UN's disaster-relief efforts, and its activities should be guided by the four principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
But the UN also has a mandate to respect its member states' sovereignty, which means that it must acknowledge an internationally recognized regime's authority over its territory and the people living there.
This is not an issue when countries are ruled by governments that have exclusive jurisdiction over their territory and a genuine concern for their citizens' welfare. But it becomes problematic when these conditions don't exist, such as in civil wars.
When militant groups capture territory within a country, it gives rise to a situation that the sociologist Charles Tilly called dual or multiple sovereignty.
The rebels, rather than the internationally recognized regime, become the de facto sovereigns of areas they control. This poses a challenge for the UN because of its twin mandates to deliver humanitarian aid impartially and to respect its member states' sovereignty.
The challenge becomes stark when an internationally recognized regime denies the UN permission to deliver humanitarian aid to opposition-controlled areas.
From the regime's perspective, the fear is that providing aid to these areas will sustain hostile communities, and could be perceived as acknowledging the rebels as de facto political leaders.
This civil-war scenario characterizes Syria. The Assad regime had lost control of vast swaths of territory within the Syrian Arab Republic's nominal borders, and it has little concern for the welfare of communities living in rebel-controlled territory, as evidenced by the Syrian Army's indiscriminate violence toward civilians in those areas.
And yet, despite the Assad regime's contempt for humanitarian norms, the UN still must obtain its permission to operate in rebel-controlled areas. In fact, the UN's Humanitarian Response Program for Syria stipulates that "the Government of Syria bears the primary responsibility for protecting its citizens."
In theory, the Syrian government allows humanitarian aid to be transported across the front lines from areas it controls to rebel-controlled territory. In practice, however, delivering aid has been extremely difficult, owing to ongoing fighting and bureaucratic obstacles put in place by the Syrian government.
The UN has very little power to influence the Syrian government's humanitarian-aid strategy, and if it openly defies the regime, it could lose permission to operate in the country at all. The UN has helped negotiate temporary ceasefires so that humanitarian-aid agencies can access besieged areas; UN agencies have quietly furnished local NGOs working in rebel-controlled areas with sorely needed supplies and technical advice; and the SC has passed resolutions to bypass the Syrian government and allow cross-border humanitarian-aid delivery. Accusations that the UN is biased toward the Assad regime are unfair, given the reality on the ground. The UN has no other option but to cooperate with the internationally recognized regime.
While the UN has worked to overcome these constraints, its efforts have been necessarily slow, reactive, and ad hoc. Worse still, its efforts were possible only because the humanitarian crisis deteriorated to such an extent that it could no longer be ignored.
Ideally, the international humanitarian-aid regime would more accurately reflect the political realities in countries afflicted by civil war, and the UN would be able to work with all parties that control territory.
One way to achieve this would be to revise the UN Charter so that it permits the organization to engage with de facto political leaders in rebel-controlled areas. The argument for making this change is especially strong in cases such as Syria, where the government has acted without concern for the wellbeing of communities living in rebel-controlled areas.
Another possibility would be to transfer responsibility for humanitarian aid in conflict zones to an NGO that is not under the same pressure to respect the sovereignty of internationally recognized regimes.
Such a change would be incongruous with the current system of international politics, which is based on the inviolability of nation-states. But surely delivering humanitarian aid to those who need it should be prioritized over the sovereignty of governments that do not respect the welfare of their citizens.

(Kennedy is a research associate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Michailidou works for the Economics Department of the OECD).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

National »

GAFFARGAON: Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of Muktijodha Sanghati Parishad Major (Retd.) Md Rezaul Karim, a veteran freedom fighter and an Awami League leader addressing a meeting on his participation in the coming National Election as a candidate from Awami League in the election area Mymensingh-10 (Gaffargaon & Pagla PS) Primary School field, Gaffargaon on Friday. Among others, freedom fighter Mofazzal Hossain, Auditor (retd.) Alhaj Abdul Karim and Ex Ward Member Saiful Islam also spoke in the meeting at Charalgi (Nidiar Char) .


Editorial »

Higher production capacity for power plants


THE state-owned power plants can't generate electricity to a minimum of their stated capacity as they lack improved technology, besides management failure to achieve the highest output as per a report in The New Nation on Sunday. The report quoting Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said its power plants can ...

International »

Hariri announces return to Lebanon as crisis simmers


AP, Paris :Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he will return home in the coming days from where he will declare a political stance for the first time since making a strange resignation announcement from Saudi Arabia that unleashed fears of a crisis in Lebanon.Hariri and his family met Saturday ...

International »

Trump blasts Hillary for questioning legitimacy of election result


Xinhua, Washington :US President Donald Trump on Saturday denounced allegations of Hillary Clinton who questioned the legitimacy of his victory in last year's presidential election.Calling his Democratic presidential rival the "worst of biggest loser of all time," Trump tweeted that "She just can't stop, which is so good for the ...

Business & Economy »

Md. Abdul Hamid Miah, Managing Director of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited, receiving the 'Islamic Retail Banking Awards (IRBA) 2017' from Professor Humayon Dar, Chairman and Founder of IRBA on Tuesday at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai. The bank achieved the award for strongest Islamic retail bank in South Asian Region conferred by UK-based financial intelligence house Cambridge IF Analytica.


Sports »

Opening ceremony of the Bengal Plastic Asian U-14 Series Tennis competition at Ramna National Tennis Complex in the city on Sunday.


Entertainment »

Documentary on Dilara Zaman


Entertainment Report :Ekushey Award winner noted actress Dilara Zaman got the house where she lived with her parents 65 years ago. After finding the house this noted actress broken down into tears because she tried to find out it for several times. This time after getting this she became excited ...

Editorial »

Engage the dignitaries for a prompt multilateral approach


FIVE foreign ministers from top Asian and European countries including a few high-ups of the European Union have started arriving in Dhaka since yesterday for discussing the Rohingya crisis with government officials. It has apparently become clear that our foreign office has finally woken up to realise that - not ...

Sports »

Asian U-14 Series Tennis competition begins tomorrow


The Bengal Plastic Asian U-14 Series Tennis competition will begin tomorrow (Monday) at Ramna National Tennis court complex in the city, said a Bangladesh Tennis Federation press release.A total of 22 boys and 15 girls' from host Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Philippines, America, and Sri Lanka will take part ...

Sports »

Vanderbilt guard Chelsie Hall (left) drives against Middle Tennessee guard Zeynep Canbaz (right) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday.


Entertainment »

Bubly , Shakib Khan pair once again


Entertainment Desk :Shakib Khan is bringing a new film under his own banner SK films. Titled Priotoma and directed by Himel Ashraf, popular Dhallywood actress Bubly will be seen against King Khan in this film, informed the actor."Himel Ashraf came to me with the story plot six months ago. I ...

Entertainment »

Kajol confirms film with Parineeta director


It was being speculated that Main Hoon Na writer Rajesh Saathi was to direct Kajol in her next film with Ajay Devgn Films. The project is said to be based on Anand Gandhi's Gujarati play Beta Kaagdo.But Kajol put the rumors aside. "Pradeep Sarkar will be directing the film, and ...

City »

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir speaking at a discussion marking 41st death anniversary of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani organised by Bhasani Smrity Sangsad in DRU auditorium on Saturday.


International »

German parties head into long weekend of coalition talks


Reuters, Berlin :Germany's would-be coalition partners continued talks on Friday after all-night negotiations failed to produce a breakthrough, with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives saying they would compromise further on climate change policies to secure a deal.The conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens remained divided on climate policy ...

Editorial »

Questions over holding tax


THE government moves to increase holding tax in Dhaka and Chittagong cities by up to nine times at a time seems to be highly arbitrary that lacks reasonable justification anyway to be acceptable to the both city dwellers. People are voicing angry reaction to such move and we must say ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news