Practice Relating to Rule 55. Access for Humanitarian Relief to Civilians in Need
Section A. Access for humanitarian relief
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides:
The parties to the conflict have to give free passage to relief personnel and facilitate the provision of relief. The State giving free passage to relief personnel can make conditions regarding the implementation of the relief action.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
0243. In addition to possible action as a protecting power and to gathering information on prisoners of war, the ICRC fulfils the following tasks:
- providing medical and other aid to the civilian population.
0244. In general, the parties to a conflict must do what is possible to provide all facilities to the ICRC to enable it to fulfil its humanitarian task, in order to ensure protection and assistance to the victims of the conflict.
The manual also states:
If the civilian population of a territory is not adequately provided with elementary supplies (food, medicines and dressings, clothing, shelter, etc.), relief actions must be undertaken. This relates to the civilian population as a whole, in other words not only protected persons. Offers of such relief may not be regarded as intervention in the armed conflict.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
Section 10 - Humanitarian aid
1069. Actions to help the civilian population, when it suffers excessive deprivation due to the hostilities or to a shortage of goods essential to their survival, may be undertaken with the consent of the parties, on humane and impartial principles and without detrimental discrimination.
1070. Impartial authorities and organizations may offer their services to provide humanitarian assistance. The belligerent parties should accept this as far as circumstances permit, and facilitate it in all situations where the civilian population is suffering excessive deprivation.
The International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo drew up the “Guiding Principles on the Right to Humanitarian Assistance” in 1993. This “recommendation” states, … inter alia
how, and on what conditions, humanitarian aid may usefully take place, and the role in this of the belligerent and the aid organization.
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states:
A peace force must also create opportunities for medical personnel to perform their task duly (e.g., provide access and lend support). This applies to local humanitarian organizations, but also to international organizations such as the ICRC. Medical personnel must be recognizable by the internationally agreed emblems. Where possible, the peace force should also support impartial organizations (NGOs, etc.) and facilitate the provision of humanitarian medical goods and assistance.
In an explanatory memorandum submitted to Parliament in the context of the ratification procedure of the 1977 Additional Protocols, the Government of the Netherlands, commenting on Article 70 of the Additional Protocol I, regretted that “it did not seem possible to oblige parties to the conflict to allow aid for the civilian population through without the parties’ explicit consent”.
In a letter to the lower house of parliament concerning the crisis in the Great Lakes region in 1996, the Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands argued in favour of the establishment of humanitarian corridors in Kivu in order to facilitate the distribution of food.
In 2006, in reply to questions from the Parliament concerning the precarious situation of refugees in Lebanon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands stated:
I share the opinion of Mr. Egeland that security while delivering humanitarian aid is essential. During a phone conversation with Israel I expressed my concerns about the worsening humanitarian situation and I have stressed the importance of a well-functioning humanitarian corridor.