Displacement and respect for IHL: Introducing a costs and benefits approach

Panel details

Panel organiser(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online
Number of paper presentations 1


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Displacement is a phenomenon that has already been extensively addressed by the academia. However, there has been surprisingly little research analyzing the impact of IHL on displacement. In the existing literature, “violence” is often mentioned as a trigger for displacement, but its meaning remains vague. Moreover, as if there were no laws aiming at reducing and limiting the effects of warfare, many scholars tend to ignore that most elements contained in the concept of violence fall under IHL provisions. On the other side, the ICRC has often asserted that, when respected, IHL reduces or even prevents displacement. What evidence of the actual impact of IHL on displacement do we have? Can IHL mitigate this phenomenon? While conflicts change, IHL remains and provides perennial boundaries in warfare. It is time to use an evidence-based approach when it comes to IHL.

This panel aims at bringing together scholars and humanitarians to exchange on how to investigate the actual impact of IHL in the field and the ways it contributes to alleviating the costs of war. By focusing on displacement, the panel is a first step towards evidence-based and multi-disciplinary research on the global impact of IHL.

The panel will welcome contributions on how respect for certain specific rules of IHL has an impact on displacement, including humanitarian access and the protection of the civilian population. For instance, in contemporary armed conflicts, such as the Sahel region, DRC, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, humanitarian organizations are struggling to ensure that aid reaches the civilian population in need. To what extent does respect for, or by contrast violations of, the obligations of the parties to the conflicts to provide and facilitate humanitarian assistance, have an impact on displacement?

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Vincent Bernard