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Recommendations of the UN SG, submitted pursuant to para 13 of SC resolution 2286 (2016), on measures to prevent acts of violence, attacks and threats against the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel (S/2016/722) [EN/AR]

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Letter dated 18 August 2016 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council

As requested by the Security Council in paragraph 13 of its resolution 2286 (2016), I have the honour to submit my recommendations on measures to enhance the protection of, and prevent acts of violence against, the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, and their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, and to better ensure accountability for such acts.

The recommendations aim to enhance the practical application of protections afforded under international law; they do not aim to modify existing international obligations or create any new ones. The recommendations and a brief introductory note are annexed hereto.

I would be grateful if you could bring the present letter and its annex to the attention of the members of the Security Council. I remain at their disposal should they wish to be briefed on these recommendations.

(Signed) BAN Ki-moon

Annex

Recommendations of the Secretary-General, submitted pursuant to paragraph 13 of Security Council resolution 2286 (2016), on measures to prevent acts of violence, attacks and threats against the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, and to better ensure accountability and enhance their protection

Introduction

1. The growing insecurity of medical care in armed conflicta is part of a broader trend of blatant disregard for the fundamental norms that safeguard humanity. In a number of ongoing armed conflicts, all too often, medical facilities and transports are bombed, shelled or looted, medical workers are threatened, kidnapped, injured or killed, fighting occurs within or near medical facilities and access to medical care is arbitrarily obstructed. Although consistent, worldwide data on such violations is still lacking, the reality on the ground is unequivocal. According to secondary data consolidated by the World Health Organization, in 2014 and 2015, there were 594 records of attacks against medical care in 19 countries. In 2015, Doctors without Borders reported attacks on 75 medical facilities that it managed or supported. From 2012 to 2014, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that 2,400 attacks against patients and medical personnel, facilities and transports had occurred in 11 conflict-affected countries. The immediate consequences of such violence are loss of life, injury, destruction and deprivation of vital care. In the long term, it results in disruption to the provision of medical care for thousands of patients, sometimes lasting even after the fighting has stopped.

2. On 3 May 2016, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2286 (2016) in response to its deep concern about the acts of violence, attacks and threats against medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities, being perpetrated in armed conflict. I warmly welcome the Security Council’s determination to strengthen the protection of medical care in armed conflict.

3. In its resolution 2286 (2016), the Security Council underlines the continued and critical importance of international humanitarian law. It calls on Member States and all parties to armed conflict to comply with their long-standing obligations and to adopt practical measures to prevent and end violence against medical care and ensure accountability for violations. All State and non-State parties to armed conflict are bound by a strict obligation to respect and protect medical workers and facilities, as well as the wounded and sick. As I have urged in recent reports, the enactment and enforcement of domestic laws and regulations, education and training, cooperation with local communities, the systematic collection and reporting of data on alleged violations and the investigation and prosecution of alleged violations are all essential to enhance the protection of medical care in armed conflict.