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Counterterrorism measures and humanitarian action

December 9, 2015, 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm

Hosts: Switzerland, and Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict

Languages: English, French, Arabic

Where: room 1


The side event provides a guided discussion on how principled humanitarian action and counterterrorism frameworks increasingly intersect. International humanitarian law carves out important protections for principled humanitarian actors, including offering services to all parties to armed conflict. Counterterrorism laws and policies may recast such humanitarian activities as unlawful support for terrorism or designated terrorist groups. This can lead to dilemmas for principled humanitarian action, especially if such groups control territory and the humanitarian access to the civilian population, and may stand at variance with existing obligations under international humanitarian law.

The security and the capacity to act of humanitarian personnel could also be affected. A number of research initiatives on these questions have been conducted over the past years, however, more discussion is needed on how counterterrorism measures may affect humanitarian principles, in particular neutrality, impartiality and independence. The side event aims therefore also at highlighting immediate and concrete effects of counterterrorism measures on principled humanitarian action and to discuss ways to avoid unintended consequences of counterterrorism laws and policies.

The side event draws on the extensive legal and policy research of the Harvard Law School Project on Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement (CHE). These publications can be accessed at: HLS PILAC CHE (in English).

The panel includes

  • Naz K. Modirzadeh, Director of the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (moderator)
  • Stephan Husy, Ambassador-at-Large for International Counter-Terrorism, Switzerland
  • Dr Tristan Ferraro, Legal Advisor, Legal Division, ICRC
  • Representative of a National Red Cross / Red Crescent Society (tbc)

This post is also available in: French, Spanish, Arabic


December 9, 2015
12:15 pm - 1:15 pm
Event Category:


Room 1
The International Conference Centre of Geneva (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland