Thursday, November 2, 2023

Israeli Attacks on Jabalia Could Be a Potential War Crime, Says UN Rights Office


The United Nations (UN) has expressed concerns over the high number of casualties and the scale of destruction in recent conflicts, raising questions about proportionality. As conflicts continue to ravage various parts of the world, it is crucial to examine whether the use of force is proportional to the intended military objective.

Proportionality is a fundamental principle of international humanitarian law that seeks to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects during armed conflicts. It requires that any military action taken must be proportionate to the anticipated military advantage. In other words, the harm caused to civilians and civilian infrastructure should not outweigh the expected military gain.

The UN has been closely monitoring conflicts worldwide and has observed a disturbing trend of high civilian casualties and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure. This raises concerns about whether parties involved in these conflicts are abiding by the principle of proportionality.

In conflict zones such as Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan, the UN has documented numerous incidents where the scale of destruction and loss of civilian lives far exceeds any perceived military advantage. The indiscriminate use of heavy weaponry, airstrikes, and artillery shelling in densely populated areas has resulted in a disproportionate number of civilian casualties.

The UN’s concern about proportionality is not limited to specific conflicts but extends to all situations where armed forces are engaged. Whether it is a state or non-state actor involved in the conflict, all parties are expected to adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law.

The principle of proportionality is enshrined in various international legal instruments, including the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. These instruments provide clear guidelines on the conduct of hostilities and emphasize the need to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure during armed conflicts.

While it is recognized that some civilian casualties are inevitable in armed conflicts, parties involved must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians. This includes distinguishing between military targets and civilian objects, as well as taking into account the potential impact on civilians when planning and executing military operations.

The UN has been actively engaged in promoting compliance with international humanitarian law and raising awareness about the principle of proportionality. Through its various bodies, such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Human Rights Council, the UN provides guidance and support to parties involved in conflicts to ensure they uphold their obligations under international law.

Additionally, the UN conducts investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law, including cases where the principle of proportionality may have been breached. These investigations aim to hold accountable those responsible for any unlawful actions and provide justice to the victims.

In conclusion, the UN’s concerns about proportionality in armed conflicts are justified given the high number of casualties and extensive destruction witnessed in recent years. Parties involved in conflicts must adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law, including the principle of proportionality, to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. The UN plays a crucial role in monitoring compliance with these principles and holding accountable those who violate them. By promoting adherence to international law, the UN strives to minimize harm to civilians and contribute to a more peaceful and just world.

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