253938 Human Rights and War: What Have We Achieved?

Monday, October 31, 2011: 1:00 PM

Leonard Rubenstein, JD , Physicians for Human Rights, Washington, DC
During the past twenty years the human rights movement has addressed human rights violations that take place on a massive scale during armed conflict. The genocide in Rwanda and the abdication of responsibility of the international community in Bosnia focused attention he limited means the human rights community had to confront them. One response was the creation of the first international tribunals created to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity since Nuremburg, and put new life into the movement to create an International Criminal Court. By the end of the decade the court was established. These conflicts also raised questions whether intervention, including military intervention, to stop atrocities is justified and if so, under what circumstances. The discussion gave rise to the “responsibility to protect,” which has been recognized by the UN. The use of language of humanitarian intervention by the Bush Administration in Iraq created concerns about the manipulations of such doctrines, though the concept has been revived, and was invoked in Libya.

This sessions will review how these two developments – international criminal justice and the responsibility to protect -- have affected human rights protection. It will also address need for mechanisms to increase protection of health in armed conflict, including prevention of or accountability for attacks on ambulances, hospitals, medical personnel and patients, remains remain. Current efforts to increase protection will be reviewed.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify key developments in human rights protection in the context of mass atrocities. 2. Evaluate success of human rights movement in addressing human rights violations in war.

Keywords: War, Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am past President of the Nobel Prize winning group, PHR, Physicians for Human Rights and currently working on issues of human rights as John Hopkins University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.