A Matter of Principle(s): The Legal Effect of Impartiality and Neutrality on States as Humanitarian Actors

International Review of the Red Cross (Forthcoming)

Posted: 15 Sep 2015 Last revised: 22 Oct 2015

Date Written: September 14, 2015

Abstract

This article examines the legal nature of the principles of impartiality and neutrality of humanitarian action, focussing on States as humanitarian actors. It argues that international law does not provide a general legal basis for the universal applicability of these principles, contrary to a common interpretation of the ICJ’s 1986 judgment in the Nicaragua case. Nevertheless, impartiality and neutrality may have significant legal effect on the conduct of States. They may be directly binding on States through the operation of Security Council resolutions drafted in mandatory language. In addition, they may have indirect effect due to the States’ obligation to respect the adherence to the principles by humanitarian organizations. On the basis of this argument, the article pleads for increased conceptual clarity and, in turn, effectiveness of humanitarian action.

Keywords: humanitarian action, humanitarian principles, impartiality, neutrality, international humanitarian law

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Mačák, Kubo, A Matter of Principle(s): The Legal Effect of Impartiality and Neutrality on States as Humanitarian Actors (September 14, 2015). International Review of the Red Cross (Forthcoming). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2660198

Kubo Mačák (Contact Author)

University of Exeter ( email )

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom
+44 1392 72 5607 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kubomacak.org

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