What's In Blue

Posted Thu 20 Dec 2018

Arria-formula Meeting on Protecting Medical Care in Armed Conflict

Tomorrow morning (21 December), there will be an Arria-formula meeting at 11 a.m.in the ECOSOC chamber, open to all member states and to civil society, on “Protecting medical care in armed conflict – from policy to practice”.The meeting is organised by Sweden, in partnership with Belgium, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Germany and Peru.

According to a concept note circulated in preparation for the meeting, there are three major objectives of the meeting: to “reiterate the need to protect medical care in armed conflict and implement Security Council Resolution 2286”, which focused on this issue; to take the conversation from “policy to practice by exploring the country-level challenges and implications…with field practitioners”; and to “identify key actions and support measures…to strengthen the protection of medical care in the field.”

After introductory remarks by Sweden, briefings will be provided by Alice Debarre, Policy Analyst at the International Peace Institute; Farhad Jawid, the Afghanistan Country Director of Marie Stopes International; and Dr. Evan Atar Adaha, the Medical Director of Maban hospital in South Sudan. Debarre is expected to focus on the legal framework and challenges to protecting medical care in conflict, while Jawid and Adaha will describe their experiences in the field. Following the briefings, the co-hosts, Council members more broadly, and other member states are expected to make statements.

Several Council members underscore the importance of protecting health care in armed conflict. This is largely because of the high number of medical and humanitarian personnel subjected to violence, the damage to medical facilities in numerous conflict settings, and the negative implications of these attacks on the lives of civilians in need of medical care and humanitarian assistance. In this regard, parties to conflict in many contexts show little respect for international humanitarian law, which includes protections for the wounded as well as for aid workers and facilities. As the Secretary-General noted in the open debate on the protection of civilians on 22 May: “Around the world, medical facilities are routinely attacked. Humanitarian and medical personnel are targeted or prevented from carrying out their duties. In 2017, the World Health Organization recorded 322 attacks resulting in 242 deaths among medical personnel and patients. That is unconscionable.”

As the concept note observes, since the adoption of resolution 2286, the Council has condemned attacks on health care in armed conflict and called for adherence to international law in this regard in numerous outcomes. In 2018, this has been the case in resolutions 2401 (Syria), 2405 (Afghanistan), 2406 (South Sudan), 2417 (conflict and hunger), and 2439 (Ebola).  Nevertheless, one of the complicating factors on this issue is that some of the permanent members have been a part of or provided support to military coalitions in conflicts such as Yemen and Syria, where attacks on medical care have been reported.

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