Understanding Humanitarian Law and Its Role in Driving Post-Conflict Humanitarian Aid

Understanding Humanitarian Law and Its Role in Driving Post-Conflict Humanitarian Aid

13 October 2023

Human Initiative – Humanitarian Law is a complex term for the general public. It involves the use of the word “Law” alongside “Humanitarian,” which is not commonly understood. During the Humanitarian Week 2023, Human Initiative collaborated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to discuss Humanitarian Law and its role in post-conflict humanitarian efforts.

Donny Putranto, a Legal Advisor at ICRC, engaged in a discussion with Human Initiative on the topic of ‘International Humanitarian Law’ during an HI-Talks session. Donny pointed out that many people generally perceive Humanitarian Law and International Law as something complex. In fact, he mentioned that the general view often characterizes both terms as weighty and confusing.

“In simple terms, Humanitarian Law can be defined. Humanitarian Law can be understood as a set of rules that aim to regulate or mitigate the humanitarian consequences of an armed conflict,” he stated.

Donny emphasized that this is the objective of Humanitarian Law. It focuses on how to regulate behavior after a conflict has occurred. One of its aspects is to create room for humanitarian assistance to reach civilians affected by the conflict.

“The conflicting parties must not unreasonably hinder the delivery of humanitarian aid. Likewise, the ICRC, as a humanitarian worker, is also required not to take sides in the conflict,” Donny explained.


Humanitarian Law, Driven by Humanity

Kaimuddin, representing Human Initiative during HI-Talks, raised a question about an issue in humanitarian conflicts. He asked how a humanitarian organization, especially the ICRC, can carry out humanitarian actions if one of the conflicting countries has not signed the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

In this regard, Donny, as a representative of ICRC, expressed the view that Humanitarian Law deals with many logical aspects. According to ICRC, Humanitarian Law possesses humanitarian values that can be found in various parts of the world. These values are woven into cultures, customs, traditions, religions, and beliefs.

“There is a common thread. People, in their simplest form, always help those in need. We believe this is found in various parts of the world. It’s a practical approach that humanitarian workers can consider to enhance humanitarian aid,” he said.

To date, ICRC has witnessed many volunteers worldwide applying Humanitarian Law in their humanitarian actions. However, according to ICRC, many of them may not be familiar with the term “Humanitarian Law.”

“…they may not be familiar with the term ‘Humanitarian Law.’ In reality, it’s the same thing, just a matter of terminology,” he concluded.


Source of Images:

1. Palestinian women and children leaving Gaza. (AFP: Mahmud Hams)  https://www.cnnindonesia.com/internasional/20231013154748-120-1010909/129-wni-di-palestina-israel-tolak-dievakuasi-di-tengah-perang.

2. A Palestinian girl is seen smiling happily during the celebration of Eid Al Adha despite her country, being overshadowed by the ongoing conflict with Israel. (Reuters: Ammar Awad)  https://www.cnbcindonesia.com/news/20230629133155-7-450102/potret-senyuman-renyah-warga-palestina-rayakan-idul-adha/5


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