Humanitarian Engagement Under Counter-Terrorism: A Conflict of Norms and the Emerging Policy Landscape

International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 93, No. 883, September 2011

25 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2012 Last revised: 6 Dec 2014

Naz K. Modirzadeh

HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict

Dustin A. Lewis

Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC)

Claude Bruderlein

Harvard University - Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research

Date Written: March 23, 2012

Abstract

This article identifies two countervailing sets of norms – one promoting humanitarian engagement with non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in armed conflict in order to protect populations in need, and the other prohibiting such engagement with listed ‘terrorist’ groups in order to protect security – and discusses how this conflict of norms might affect the capacity of humanitarian organizations to deliver life-saving assistance in areas under the control of one of these groups. Rooted in international humanitarian law (IHL), the first set of norms provides a basis for humanitarian engagement with NSAGs in non-international armed conflict for the purpose of assisting populations under their control and promoting compliance with the rules of IHL. The second set of rules attempts to curtail financial and other forms of material support, including technical training and co-ordination, to listed ‘terrorist’ organizations, some of which may qualify as NSAGs under IHL. The article highlights counter-terrorism regulations developed by the United States and the United Nations Security Council, though other states and multilateral bodies have similar regulations. The article concludes by sketching ways in which humanitarian organizations might respond to the identified tensions.

Keywords: humanitarian action, counterterrorism, international humanitarian law, material support, humanitarian policy

Suggested Citation

Modirzadeh, Naz K. and Lewis, Dustin A. and Bruderlein, Claude, Humanitarian Engagement Under Counter-Terrorism: A Conflict of Norms and the Emerging Policy Landscape (March 23, 2012). International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 93, No. 883, September 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2027928

Naz K. Modirzadeh

HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict ( email )

1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Langdell 175-J
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Dustin A. Lewis (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC) ( email )

Langdell 175-J
1545 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pilac.law.harvard.edu/dustin-a-lewis

Claude Bruderlein

Harvard University - Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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