Humanitarian Access during Armed Conflicts

Keywords: assistance, protection, humanitarian access, armed conflicts, international conflict, war, non-international conflict


The article analyses the right to humanitarian access, which finds its expression in humanitarian aid and protection during armed conflicts in accordance with the norms of International Humanitarian Law. The basics of humanitarian access activities are determined. Mechanisms for ensuring and supporting effective humanitarian access as a result of collective action and efforts of humanitarian actors are considered. The article reaffirms that the provision of humanitarian assistance is the responsibility of all parties to an armed conflict in accordance with International Humanitarian Law. International Humanitarian Law is a constant of legal norms that must be applied by all parties to an armed conflict. Determinant in this definition is the presence of armed conflict, not the «humanitarian» component. Authors of the article emphasize that the axiom of International Humanitarian Law is the protection of war victims, which corresponds to the key principle of humanity. Access standards are reflected in the four Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War of 1949 and the two Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1977. Unless a State or other party to an armed conflict is a party to a treaty, customary International Humanitarian Law operate in parallel with contractual rules. Humanitarian protection is designed to protect and restore human rights, which is based on the provisions of international human rights law and forms the basis of fundamental human rights and freedoms. The provisions of international criminal law, in particular the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court are strengthens humanitarian access. The article argues that addressing issues such as the accreditation of humanitarian missions, the humanitarian aid coordination system and overcoming regulatory gaps will address the current challenges of humanitarian access in armed conflict mainly due to the difficulties of interaction of international humanitarian missions with the warring parties. The authors of the article confirmed that the violation of the right to humanitarian access poses a threat to peace and security in the world.


Humanitarnyi dostup u skhidnii Ukraini: ohliad sytuatsii BF «Pravo na zakhyst» u partnerstvi z HIAS. (2019). Retrieved from Global Protection Cluster:

Korynevych, A. O. (15.09.2020; 20:00) Chy porushuie Ukraina mizhnarodne pravo, vidmovliaiuchys postachaty vodu v Krym? Retrieved from Ukrainska pravda:

Henckaerts, J.-M.; Doswald-Beck, L. (2005) Customary International Humanitarian Law: Volume I: Rules. Cambridge University Press, New York. Retrieved from International Committee of the Red Cross:

Dodatkovyi protokol do Zhenevskykh konventsii vid 12.08.1949 r., shcho stosuietsia zakhystu zhertv mizhnarodnykh zbroinykh konfliktiv (Protokol I), vid 08.06.1977 r. (N.d.) Retrieved from Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy. Zakonodavstvo Ukrainy:

Humanitarian Access in situations of armed conflict: Practitioners Manual. The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (2014) Retrieved from Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten EDA:

Zmitsnennia povahy do mizhnarodnoho humanitarnoho prava: Posibnyk dlia narodnykh deputativ Ukrainy. Mizhnarodnyi komitet Chervonoho Khresta (MKChKh) (2017). Retrieved from International Committee of the Red Cross:

Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination. (N.d.) Retrieved from The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC. (N.d.) Retrieved from Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten EDA:

Plan humanitarnoho reahuvannia, Ukraina UKHS vid imeni Humanitarnoi komandy krainy ta partneriv. (2020) Retrieved from HumanitarianResponse:

IHL Rules on Humanitarian Access and Covid-19 International Committee of the Red Cross (08.04.2020). Retrieved from International Committee of the Red Cross:

What we do? (N.d.) Retrieved from The HALO Trust:

International Mine Action Standards Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. (N.d.) Retrieved from:

Unmas strategic plan 2019–2023. (N.d.) Retrieved from UNMAS:

Pro zabezpechennia prav i svobod hromadian ta pravovyi rezhym na tymchasovo okupovanii terytorii Ukrainy. Zakon Ukrainy vid 03.07.2020 r. № 1207–II. (N.d.) Retrieved from Verkhovna Rada Ukrainy. Zakonodavstvo Ukrainy:

International Law