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Protection of Civilians in Conflict Zones

  • By: Susan MacGregor
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

Protecting innocent civilians who are caught in a conflict zone is one of the most important tasks of the international relief community. In addition to daily exposure to violence, armed conflict brings about displacement of entire communities, which may lead to issues of access to relief assistance. In many cases, protection (or lack thereof) is the primary need of individuals being served by relief agencies.

Legal Instruments of Protection

With reference to civilians, the word protection has a very specific legal meaning. International human rights law provides for fundamental and nonderogable rights that must be protected for all individuals at all times, including times of war, conflict, and emergency. These rights include: the right to life; the right to due process of law; the prohibition of torture, ...

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