Recent emerging and re-occurring disasters around the world, both natural and man-made, have demonstrated the power such forces can bring to bear regarding the destruction of humanity. Failure to allow assistance in times of emergency can lead to potential security issues. The human security components most at risk are freedom from fear and freedom from want. While international legal instruments, including human rights treaties, contain numerous provisions aimed at protecting and promoting the right to health, questions still exist as to whether the affected State is obligated to accept external â€œhumanitarianâ€ assistance without delay if a significant percentage of its population is vulnerable to starvation, unnecessary suffering and even imminent death? It is in this sense that the international community has to consider the tension between State/territorial sovereignty and humanitarian intervention.
The article by J. Benton Heath suggests a framework within which the affected government which declines humanitarian assistance must publicly justify its conduct in the hopes of reducing human suffering and the potential for security risks such suffering can bring.
- Disasters, Relief, and Neglect: The Duty to Accept Humanitarian Assistance and the Work of the International Law Commission (Links to an external site.) by J. Benton Heath.
- What is a state’s duty to accept humanitarian assistance in a disaster?
- Does this run afoul of traditional notions of state sovereignty?
- At what point does human rights law take effect?
- Will Mr. Heath’s rule aid in defining what state conduct will be acceptable?
Discuss and interact regularly with your classmates, bringing the discussion to a close by the end of Module 6 and please review and follow the Discussion Guidelines.
Refer to the Discussion Rubric for detailed grading criteria.