A Human Rights-Based Approach to the Global Regulation of Humanitarian Relief: The Emerging Obligation to Incorporate Local Participation
37 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2015 Last revised: 10 Nov 2015
Date Written: October 23, 2015
An examination of international legal instruments such as treaties, resolutions adopted under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), and the practice of states, confirms the existence of a right to provide humanitarian assistance. While domestic states have the primary responsibility to provide assistance to their populations in cases of humanitarian crisis, the international community of states and other non-state agencies can invoke a secondary responsibility to act, in accordance with the right to provide humanitarian assistance, where the domestic state is unable or unwilling to act. There are even sanctions for obstruction of provision of humanitarian assistance by the domestic state. For instance, the UN Security Council Resolution 794 of 1992 established that the obstruction of supply of humanitarian assistance in Somalia created a catastrophe that was a threat to international peace and security, and proceeded to authorize states "to use all necessary means to establish…a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations" within the State. In addition, non-state actors, who are progressively becoming significant participants in the global governance and provision of humanitarian relief, have self-regulatory mechanisms such as the Sphere Charter. This article argues that the global regulatory framework of humanitarian relief that is emerging under the auspices of both state and non-state actors is premised on a human rights-based approach to humanitarian assistance, which may crystallize a duty to ensure local participation. The article then proceeds to examine the problems and opportunities associated with the obligation to ensure local participation.
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