Edited by Gian Luca Burci and Brigit Toebes
Chapter 9: Health and international humanitarian law
Armed conflicts situations have a huge impact on health and human life, including long-term physical disabilities and mental health problems or increasing rates of epidemic diseases. These effects are often associated with a complete or partial breakdown of health systems and the destruction of essential infrastructure in armed conflicts. This chapter describes how the law of armed conflicts—or international humanitarian law (IHL)—protects those affected in their health in such contexts, notably through the protection of the so-called ‘wounded and sick’. It also addresses the challenges encountered by the international community such as the targeting of hospitals and medical personnel, or impediments to humanitarian access. Since the majority of armed conflicts situations involve one or several armed non-state actors, it includes a discussion on how these actors are bound by IHL on the protection of health and to what extent they are able to implement the rules, taking into account the impact of counter-terrorism measures adopted by many states.
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