A humanitarian corridor aims at facilitating the transportation of charitable supplies like food, clothes, medicines, and hospital services such as ambulances that are directed to the local population in times of crisis in conflict zones. It is set on a specific route for a given time. Humanitarian corridors are limited in space, time and scope: they take the form of neutralized and negotiated itineraries that can only be used to help the civilians, during times of conflict or crisis. The concept of humanitarian corridor originates from the international humanitarian law (IHL), with the idea of right of access to victims. It was then recognized by various UN resolutions, under the influence of the movement promoting the right to intervene. Also, it takes a leaf out of the Law of the Sea when it comes to the access to maritime zones within the limit of national jurisdiction, with the concept of "harmless passage". In the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, article 23 states that "Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary. It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics".
[...] Humanitarian corridors in practice The concept of humanitarian corridors refers to very practical issues and only makes full sense on the field. Even though its definition is a safe access of the humanitarian actors, on the field it is different. In practice, the establishment of humanitarian corridors often required the use of the armed forced. Thus, the UN launched various peacekeeping operations, which were progressively allowed to use force to secure the transit of humanitarian aid. In the case of the Yugoslavian conflict in 1992, the resolutions 764 and 770 planned the neutralization of the Sarajevo Airport and establish “security corridors” under the protection of UNPROFOR, in order to secure the transportation of the aid from the airport to the city. [...]
[...] The concept of humanitarian corridors is used to hide the reality. This so- called corridor is a kind of alibi because, in practice, there is no access for the humanitarian actors in the South of Lebanon. The international community is deluding itself. Even the part of the “humanitarian corridor” that goes from Cyprus to Bayreuth, namely the most easy to establish, does not really work. Some medications of great urgency were blocked in Cyprus. The humanitarian corridor to the South of Lebanon is an “illusion” environment or the lack of facilities in some countries, or barriers due to the belligerents. [...]
[...] - 1992: Humanitarian corridors are set up in Azerbaijan to facilitate the access to the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. - 1992: Humanitarian corridors to the city of Gorazde are opened in Ex-Yugoslavia. - 1994: Sudan declares safe access for humanitarian agencies. - July 1999: Establishment of humanitarian corridors for provision of urgent humanitarian assistance” in Democratic Republic of Congo. - March 2004: The UN negotiate with Sudanese authorities the opening of humanitarian corridors from Chad to Darfur. - July 2006: Maritime and air corridors are opened to the South of Lebanon. [...]
[...] Even when they are negotiated, the humanitarian corridors are insecure, especially in intern conflicts. As explained above, the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations and of regional organizations are therefore ensuring the security of the humanitarian actors, using force if necessary. This seems necessary in the context of violent conflicts but it raises a thorny issue. Because armed forces appear as necessary in the establishment of many humanitarian corridors, it puts at risk the neutrality and the impartiality of the humanitarian actors. [...]
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