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Report of the Workshop on Health Care in Danger: Military Operational Practices International Committee of the Red Cross and Government of Australia

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WORKSHOP ON HEALTH CARE IN DANGER:
MILITARY OPERATIONAL PRACTICES INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE
OF THE RED CROSS AND GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRALIA


Sydney, Australia

December 10-12, 2013

Report

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REPORT OF THE WORKSHOP ON HEALTH CARE IN DANGER:
MILITARY OPERATIONAL PRACTICES INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE
OF THE RED CROSS AND GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRALIA

Introduction

Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp Entrance, Tripoli, Libya

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Australian Government co-hosted a military practices expert workshop in Sydney from 10-12 December, 2013, as part of the series of international workshops for the Health Care in Danger project. The workshop was the culmination of prior bilateral confidential consultations between ICRC and the armed forces of 29 countries as well as two multilateral organisations of a military or defence character. The aim of the workshop was to identify and discuss practical measures to make access to and delivery of impartial health care safer while permitting the conduct of military operations to be achieved.

Participants and venue

Two ICMM representatives, Group Captain Michele Walker and Ms Vicki Brown, were among the 27 military operational, medical or legal representatives from more than 20 countries at the workshop, held at the Military Law Centre at the Victoria Barracks in Sydney.

Workshop outline

Checkpoint near Chuapal,
San José del Guaviare, Colombia

The workshop included plenary sessions and working groups. The participants discussed three issues which were identified by the ICRC as major concerns: ground evacuation, search operations in health-care facilities, and precautions in military attacks.

1. Ground evacuation

Avoiding or minimizing delays in the ground transportation of sick and wounded individuals in the event of ground movement controls, conducted in particular through roadblocks or checkpoints.

2. Search operations in health-care facilities

Avoiding or limiting the negative impact of military search operations on hospitals and other health-care facilities.

3. Precautions in attacks

Magen David Adom paramedics evacuate
wounded soldiers to a hospital, Haifa, Israel

Avoiding or minimizing incidental damage that may be caused when attacking military objectives in the vicinity of health-care facilities.

Conclusion

The Sydney workshop was considered a success by both the participants and the organizers.     The participants demonstrated interest and willingness to propose practical solutions to the issues. The relevance of IHL was reaffirmed, and a general tendency and willingness to discuss measures beyond legal requirements were observed.

Outcome

The outcome of the consultation process, including the Sydney workshop, is a report entitled Promoting military operational practice that ensures safe access to and delivery of health care, which was launched in Canberra, Australia, on 24 September 2014. The report outlines practical measures that can be taken to limiting the impact of military operations on the delivery of health-care in armed conflict. The report is available in PDF format at https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/publication/p4208.htm