The Law and Politics of Responding to Attacks against Aid Workers
Julia Brooks and Rob Grace
thereof – directed towards addressing humanitarian insecurity, public advocacy and confidential negotiation. The fourth section extrapolates lessons from these earlier sections relevant to the broader discourse on security management within the humanitarian sector. The final section offers concluding remarks.
On 3 October 2015, the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan came under aerial assault. As a series of sustained airstrikes targeted the main building, first hitting the intensive care unit, MSF staff
go home.’ 17
Partis-Jennings (2019) notes that while
white women in the aid sector in socially conservative societies such as Afghanistan
were regarded as having a ‘third gender’, to which local social
expectations did not apply, Afghan women did not have the same luxury. Likewise, an
informant described how as a Black expat woman, she experienced an insider/outsider
dilemma, allowing her to blend into some communities but posing other risks and
where you make a selfie with #NotATarget . We did the visual ceremony in front of the HUG [Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève]. 11 MSF Belgium was running the Kunduz hospital campaign, so we mobilized a lot of bilateral meetings; there was a lot of negotiations at the US level, at the Afghanistan level. We even spoke out at the UN Security Council – which is a rare thing for MSF – with Joanne Liu and the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross]. 12 It was pure advocacy all the way and it became a very public campaign. We used it for as long as we could until
Harford , T. ,
M. ( 2004 ), Aid Agency Competition: A Century
of Entry, but no Exit ( New York :
The World Bank ).
Jacobsen , K.
L. ( 2015 ), ‘ Experimentation in
Humanitarian Locations: UNHCR and Biometric Registration of Afghan
Matthew Hunt, Sharon O’Brien, Patrick Cadwell, and Dónal P. O’Mathúna
understanding, possibly caused by inadequate translation,
can be serious: populations may not heed directions to flee a danger area or may be
deprived of services because they do not understand how to access them.
Significantly, language barriers hindered the participation of local organisations
in coordination meetings and networks of humanitarian responders in places such as
Haiti ( Kirsch et al. ,
2012 ), Afghanistan ( De Ford
Gonzáles et al. , 2016
The Politics of ‘Proximity’ and Performing Humanitarianism in Eastern DRC
Politics of Aid’ , Development and Change , 41 : 6 , 1117 – 39 .
Hilhorst , D. and Schmiemann , N. ( 2002 ), ‘Humanitarian Principles and Organisational Culture: Everyday Practice in Médecins Sans Frontiéres Holland’ , Development in Practice , 12 : 4 , 490 – 500 .
Hofman , M. and Heller Pérache , A. ( 2014 ), ‘From Remote Control to Remote Management, and Onwards to Remote Encouragement? The Evolution of MSF’s Operational Models in Somalia and Afghanistan’ , International Review of the Red Cross , 96 : 895–6 , 1177 – 91 .
James , D. ( 2011
in continual pursuit of advancement, from drone technologies to big data surveillance systems, what is ultimately being destroyed is the ability to imagine all too human relationships that put ethics before technological claims.
The Opposite of Violence is a Just Peace
Millions have been brutally slaughtered in justification of lasting peace. History shows that the most apparently peaceful regimes can in fact be the most tyrannical. We only need to think here about the brutal vision of peace and stability brought to Afghanistan in the early years of Taliban
-education camps ( Cumming-Bruce, 2018 ).
The third possibility, that we face a normative void, is perhaps more worrying, exemplified by
the brutality with which Presidents Putin and Assad, along with the Saudi government, have torn
up IHL by bombing hospitals in Syria and Yemen. Indeed, the sense that the US has been far from
transparent about why it bombed a hospital in Afghanistan in 2015 has fuelled arguments of
hypocrisy that might have mattered less when the US had no challengers but matters a great deal
now China’s rise has created a space into
Four Decisive Challenges Confronting Humanitarian Innovation
Gerard Finnigan and Otto Farkas
crossfire as they flea, as reported
in Falluja ( Amnesty International, 2016a ).
The UN/Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy, intended for 78,000 people in Aleppo,
was targeted and bombed, effectively obliterating any aid for the people in the city
( Amnesty International, 2016b ). In
October 2015, a US air strike destroyed a hospital in Kunduz in Afghanistan, run and
operated by Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF), killing twenty-four
patients, fourteen staff and