Practice Relating to Rule 28. Medical Units
Uruguay’s Basic Information for the Pre-Deployment of Personnel Involved in UN Stabilization Missions (2014), in a section entitled “The protection of childhood”, states:
In situations of armed conflict, children are exposed to serious violations of their rights, which demand the attention of all responsible parties in those locations, especially those who, like the contingents in the mission zones, work under the flag of the United Nations.
The issue is so important that a dedicated office has been set up, headed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
The office has identified six serious violations of the human rights of children during armed conflicts. Personnel are requested to be particularly alert to these violations and to report them through the established mechanisms. …
The six serious violations are:
5. Attacks against schools and hospitals[.]
Uruguay’s Military Penal Code (1943), as amended, punishes military personnel, equiparados
and even persons unconnected with the armed forces “for unjustified attacks on hospitals and asylums”.
Uruguay’s Law on Cooperation with the ICC (2006) states:
26.2. Persons and objects affected by the war crimes set out in the present provision are persons and objects which international law protects in international or internal armed conflict.
26.3. The following are war crimes:
17. Intentionally directing attacks against … hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives.
32. Intentionally directing attacks against medical buildings, material [and] units.
In 2011, in a statement before the UN Security Council during an open debate on children and armed conflict, made partly on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, including Uruguay, the deputy permanent representative of Canada stated:
Members of the Friends Group have reliably called on the [UN] Security Council to strengthen its protection framework even more and consistently called for all six grave violations committed against children in armed conflict to be included amongst the Security Council Resolution 1612 [of 2005] listing criteria. The Friends Group has supported a progressive approach in this regard and therefore commends the Security Council in filling an important gap in the child protection framework by including attacks against schools and hospitals as the latest trigger through the resolution it will adopt today [Resolution 1998 (2011)].
For the Friends Group, a new trigger such as this not only includes in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict those parties to armed conflict that, in contravention of applicable international law, engage in attacks against schools and hospitals, but also those who engage in threats or attacks against schoolchildren, patients, educational or medical personnel.