Obligations under international law

Ans: IHL prohibits the use of “human shields” in combat. This law applies to both situations of international armed conflict and other forms of conflict that are internal or non-international. Therefore when Hezbollah used human shields to protect themselves There are two aspects to this issue. The Hezbollah allegedly used human shields to protect themselves knowing their military weakness against a superior Israeli force. They also knew that if innocent civilians were killed they could accuse the Israeli forces of indiscriminate killing of civilians.

An August 3, 2006 Human Rights Watch had this to say on this subject. It stated that “Hezbollah occasionally did store weapons in or near civilian homes and fighters placed rocket launchers within populated areas or near UN observers, which are serious violations of the laws of war because they violate the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties.... ” There are contradictory versions of whether the Hezbollah actually used civilians as human shields.

But if correct then one would look to article 51 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention which states that: “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the subject of attack. ” By using the civil population as human shields this provision is violated. Also the human shields phenomenon, violates Article 58 of Protocol 1, which requires parties to a conflict to “Avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas. ” This fact has come to light as cited above in the HRW report.

And finally, one can refer to Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states: “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations. ” This means that gaining immunity from attack by using civilians as a sheild is itself violative of international law. But a larger picture of the war needs to be taken in terms of the second question about the justification of the means employed to fight the war by both sides.

Without addressing distinction and proportionality, it becomes impossible to ascertain whether or not both sides, in this case, Israel and the Hezbollah were within their rights in International Law to launch certain types of military operations to gain certain objections. In Iraq, the civilian population is suffering from the effects of the war. Q-A) Which rules govern assistance to the civilian population in Iraq? The occupation of Iraq by the USA and the UK and other coalition forces is governed by the Hague and Geneva Conventions and by Security Council Resolutions 1483 and 1511, as well as by their other treaty obligations.

The rights and obligations that the countries occupying Iraq are obliged to fulfill under international law are enshrined in the regulations in the 1907 Hague Convention and the Fourth Geneva Convention. Under international law, the civilian population in Iraq has to be looked after by the USA. Under the Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Conventions the US is obliged to restore and maintain public order and safety. The US must also respect the fundamental rights of the Iraqi people. Basically, under international humanitarian law, the US has to fulfill the needs of the Iraqi people and ensure their safety and security.

It has the duty to supply food and medicines to the Iraqi people, and provide medical services “to the fullest extent of the means available to it” under Article 55-56 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions. All states that are party to the Geneva Conventions are obliged to fulfill their obligations to protect the lives and property of civilians who have been affected by the conflict ensuing from the occupation of Iraq by the US. As the occupying force, America has taken over the responsibility of ensuring maintenance of law and order and the smooth running of public services.

This is an enormous challenge, because the US-led forces are mainly military. This in course of time has led the US to partly transfer power to local Iraqi political personages. But still it remains the responsibility of the US-led forces to provide assistance to the civil population because it is the occupying force and under international law there are certain rights and obligations. Apart from the assistance rendered by the US, international aid can also be taken in order to fulfill international obligations.

IHL makes it very clear that an occupying force has clear responsibilities in terms of public services and welfare. Within this overall responsibility, there are three areas of concern. First, there is rehabilitation and reconstruction. Second, is the continuance of provision of public services and third humanitarian relief on an emergency basis. The US can call on international organizations to provide aid and assistance to the Iraqi people in areas to be delivered in line with its obligations under international law.

If the relief provided by the US is deemed inadequate then humanitarian relief can be provided which will include items defined by IHL, as being essential for the survival of the civilian population. All this means that the basic premise about the civil population suffering from the effects of the war. Because the US has failed in its basic task that of keeping the people alive – the people are turning to any authority that can fulfill that for them. To that extent the US is failing its obligations under international law to help the civil society in Iraq.