Practice Relating to Rule 55. Access for Humanitarian Relief to Civilians in Need
Section D. Right of the civilian population in need to receive humanitarian relief
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states: “Civilians may at any time seek help from a protecting power, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or any other aid society.”
In 1993, during a parliamentary debate on the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a German Minister of State stated that existing IHL granted a right to the civilian population to receive humanitarian aid. Therefore, obtaining the consent of the occupying or besieging forces to grant transit of humanitarian goods was legally unnecessary.
In 1997, during an open debate in the UN Security Council, Germany declared: “We have witnessed … a worrisome development whereby civilian populations are denied humanitarian assistance by the Powers in control of the territory, in clear breach of the norms of international humanitarian and human rights law.” The consequences of these actions were said to range from massive displacement to death by starvation.