Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Medical care in armed conflict: Perpetrator discourse in historical perspective

  • Duncan McLean

Abstract

Although the Geneva Conventions have been successively revised since 1864, norms regarding the protection of medical care have been frequently disregarded. Despite current claims of international humanitarian law in crisis, comparing historic levels of violations with contemporary incidents is quantitatively challenging. Reviewing past reactions and justifications used by perpetrators of attacks on medical care can, however, be revealing. Based on a series of emblematic cases, qualitative analysis of perpetrator discourse can contribute to a better understanding of why the protection of medical care in armed conflict continues to be problematic to this day, notably through the rationales given for attacks, which have remained remarkably consistent over time.

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All
*

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and in no way represent the organization to which he belongs. The author extends his appreciation to Françoise Duroch, Amy Mavor, Philippe Calain, Camille Michel, Maria Guevara and Xavier Crombé for their support and valuable comments.

Footnotes

References

Hide All

1 ICRC Archives (ICRCA), B CR 210-15, “Delegate Report No. 6”, 9 January 1936 (author's translation).

2 Ibid.

3 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.08, “Bombardement de l'hôpital d'Owa Omamma au Biafra”, 27 December 1968 (author's translation).

4 Taithe, Bertrand, “Danger, Risk, Security and Protection: Concepts at the Heart of the History of Humanitarian Aid”, in Neuman, Michaël and Weissman, Fabrice (eds), Saving Lives and Staying Alive: Humanitarian Security in the Age of Risk Management, Hurst & Co., London, 2016, p. 43.

5 Baudendistel, Rainer, Between Bombs and Good Intentions: The Red Cross and the Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935–1936, Berghahn Books, Oxford, 2006, p. 102.

6 Refers to a panel discussion, “Rules in War – A Thing of the Past?”, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 10 May 2019.

7 “WHA 67 – Healthcare Under Attack”, IFMSA'S Official Blog, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, 25 May 2014, available at: https://ifmsa.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/wha-67-healthcare-under-attack/.

9 Rubenstein, Leonard S. and Bittle, Melanie D., “Responsibility for Protection of Medical Workers and Facilities in Armed Conflict”, The Lancet, Vol. 375, No. 9711, 23 January 2010, p. 329.

10 MSF, Medical Care Under Fire: An Analysis of MSF's Experience of Violence and Insecurity in the Field, Internal Report, March 2016.

11 Fabrice Weissman, “Security Incident Narratives Buried in Numbers: The MSF Example”, in M. Neuman and F. Weissman (eds), above note 4, p. 68.

12 Calain, Philippe, “Attacks on Hospitals: An Alarming Problem for Military Medicine as Well as for Humanitarian Medicine”, International Review of the Armed Forces Medical Services, Vol. 90, No. 3, September 2017, p. 73.

13 ICRC, “Call for Papers: Historical Perspectives on Medical Care in Armed Conflict”, 24 October 2018.

14 Maude Montani, “Attacks on MSF Hospitals: The Discursive Practices of Perpetrators”, Internal Paper, MSF, Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices, 3 November 2016.

15 Ibid.

16 In contemporary terms, “the perpetrator” can refer to States, coalitions or non-State armed groups.

17 P. Calain, above note 12.

18 The Geneva Convention was applied during the Second Schleswig War of 1864 and the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, but these can be considered “semi-experiments” as only the Kingdom of Prussia had signed the Convention. Bertrand Taithe, Defeated Flesh: Welfare, Warfare and the Making of Modern France, Manchester University Press, Manchester, 1999, p. 165.

19 R. Baudendistel, above note 5, pp. 102–103.

20 B. Taithe, above note 18, p. 155.

21 Dunant, J. Henri, Un Souvenir de Solferino, Imprimerie Jule-Guillaume Fick, Geneva, 1862.

22 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field of 22 August 1864 (1864 Geneva Convention), Art. 5.

23 Ibid.

24 It was only in 1876 that the International Committee formally adopted the name International Committee of the Red Cross, hence the use of the former at the time of the Franco-Prussian War.

25 Gustave Moynier, La Convention de Genève pendant la Guerre Franco-Allemande, Soullier & Wirth, Geneva, 1873, pp. 30–32 (author's translation).

26 In addition to the French and German versions, medical support came from twelve National Aid Societies for the Nursing of the Sick and Wounded in the Field (as National Red Cross Societies were then known): Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Holland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as the United States, despite not yet having a Society. Segesvary, Victor, The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871: The Birth of Red Cross Solidarity, Editions L'Age D'Homme, Geneva, 1971, pp. 8, 1011.

27 G. Moynier, above note 25, p. 5.

28 V. Segesvary, above note 26, p. 37.

29 Ibid.

30 B. Taithe, above note 18, p. 159.

31 Ibid.

32 A British ambulance found the flying of neutral country flags more useful because “experience had taught us to have more faith in its rainbow crosses than in all the Geneva flags that were waving in the city, for there was a perfect outbreak of them”. Pearson, Emma Maria and Mclaughlin, Louisa Elizabeth, Our Adventures during the War of 1870, Richard Bentley & Son, London, 1871, p. 149.

33 B. Taithe, above note 18, p. 171.

34 Buzzati, Jules-César and Castori, Constantin, De l'emploi abusif du signe et du nom de la Croix-Rouge: Deux mémoires, ICRC, Geneva, 1890, p. 20 (author's translation).

35 Ibid, p. 21.

36 G. Moynier, above note 25, pp. 42–43.

37 E. M. Pearson and L. E. Mclaughlin, above note 32.

38 B. Taithe, above note 4, p. 43.

39 Ibid.

40 G. Moynier, above note 25, pp. 23–24.

41 Ibid, pp. 30–32.

42 The list is lengthy, and includes extreme examples such as parts of the 300-strong Irish Ambulance transforming itself from nurses to soldiers on arrival in Le Havre; the use of the emblem to transport munitions and treasuries; the “murder or attempted murder of doctors and nurses, both by the French and the Germans”; and the less offensive distribution of the Red Cross armband to facilitate the evacuation of the wounded. See J.-C. Buzzati and C. Castori, above note 34, p. 15; G. Moynier, above note 25, pp. 11, 16.

43 For example, shortly after the war, a German publication cited twenty-one recorded firings on German medical staff, and a further thirty-one offences deemed intentional. See Les Violations de la Convention de Genève par les Français en 1870–1871 : Dépêches, Protocoles, Rapports etc, Editeurs Charles Duncker, Berlin, 1871, pp. 13–15.

44 Moorehead, Caroline, Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross, Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York, 1999, pp. 82, 123.

45 Christot, F., Le Massacre de l'ambulance de Saône-et-Loire, Vingtrinier : Rapport lu au Comité médical de secours aux blessés, le 7 juillet 1871, Lyon, 1871, pp. 1516 (author's translation).

46 Dauban, Charles-Aimé, La Guerre comme la font les Prussiens, Henri Plon, Paris, 1870, p. 69 (author's translation).

47 Les Violations de la Convention de Genève, above note 43, p. 11 (author's translation).

48 G. Moynier, above note 25, p. 44.

49 Ibid, p. 4.

50 J.-C. Buzzati and C. Castori, above note 34, p. 18.

51 B. Taithe, above note 18, p. 163.

52 Although not addressed in this paper, mines also represented a danger to all shipping and caused significant damage. Germany was accused of violating the Hague Convention by laying mines in international waters. McGreal, Stephen, The War on Hospital Ships: 1914–1918, Pen & Sword Maritime, Barnsley, 2008, pp. 7, 43.

53 Additional Articles relating to the Condition of the Wounded in War, Geneva, 20 October 1868; Convention (III) for the Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention of 22 August 1864, The Hague, 29 July 1899.

54 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field, 6 July 1906 (1906 Geneva Convention); Plumridge, John H., Hospital Ships and Ambulance Trains, Seeley, Service & Co., London, 1975, p. 35.

55 Hague Convention (X) for the Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention, 18 October 1907, Arts 1, 3, 4, 5.

56 Ibid.

57 Ibid.

58 “Hold German Hospital Ship: British Authorities Say the Ophelia was Really a Scout”, New York Times, 22 May 1915.

59 S. McGreal, above note 52, pp. 28–32.

60 J. H. Plumridge, above note 54, pp. 36, 44.

61 S. McGreal, above note 52, pp. 59–60.

62 “Teuton Hospital Ship Sunk in the Adriatic: Berlin says Allied Submarine Torpedoed Her – Sailor Drowned, Two Nurses Hurt”, New York Times, 20 March 1916.

63 Ibid.

64 “I. – The First Year: The ‘Britannic’”, in Unknown Author, The War on Hospital Ships: With Narratives of Eye-Witnesses and British and German Diplomatic Correspondence, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and London, 1918.

65 S. McGreal, above note 52, p. 118.

66 “III. – Diplomatic Correspondence: Memorandum of the German Government Respecting the Misuse of Enemy Hospital Ships”, in Unknown Author, above note 64.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid. Continued accusations that the British used hospital ships for the transport of troops and munitions led to the German barred zone being extended to include the Mediterranean Sea on 26 May 1917. The Germans stated that they would “regard all hospital ships in these waters as enemy vessels of war and would attack on sight”. S. McGreal, above note 52, p. 158.

69 Ibid.

70 “III. – Diplomatic Correspondence: Memorandum of the British Government in Reply to German Allegations of the Improper Use of British Hospital Ships”, in Unknown Author, above note 64.

71 Ibid.

72 Ibid.

73 “I. – The First Year: The Verdict of the Red Cross”, in Unknown Author, above note 64.

74 Ibid.

75 J. H. Plumridge, above note 54, p. 42.

76 “I. – The First Year: The ‘Donegal’ and the ‘Lanfranc’”, in Unknown Author, above note 64.

77 Ibid.; S. McGreal, above note 52, p. 144.

78 S. McGreal, above note 52, p. 141.

79 “I. – The First Year: The ‘Donegal’ and the ‘Lanfranc’”, in Unknown Author, above note 64.

80 Ibid.

81 S. McGreal, above note 52, p. 150.

82 J. H. Plumridge, above note 54, p. 46.

83 S. McGreal, above note 52, pp. 204–205.

84 Such views persisted with the war crimes trial in Leipzig addressing this specific incident. The “continual reports of British abuse of hospital ships” were noted, while the defence denounced the “hunger blockade” and stated that “it was necessary to destroy the men and women in the lifeboats in order to prevent them from reaching their homes and re-joining the war against the Fatherland”. Ibid., pp. 205, 222–225.

85 “I. – The First Year: The ‘Vperiod’”, in Unknown Author, above note 64.

86 “… primarily the blister agent sulphur mustard”: see Lina Grip and John Hart, “The Use of Chemical Weapons in the 1935–36 Italo-Ethiopian War”, SIPRI Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme, October 2009.

87 Ethiopia ratified the 1929 Geneva Convention on 15 July 1935. This was the third revision of the original 1864 Geneva Convention.

88 1906 Geneva Convention.

89 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field, 28 July 1929 (1929 Geneva Convention), Art. 24.

90 R. Baudendistel, above note 5, pp. 117. It should also be noted that although the capital was occupied on 5 May 1936, fighting continued up until the last major battle on 19 February 1937 in Gogetti.

91 Ibid., pp. 118–119.

92 Ibid.

93 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Rapport au Comité International de la Croix Rouge du voyage à Dessie du Docteur Junod du 7 décembre au 15 décembre 1935”, 17 December 1935.

94 Junod, Marcel, Warrior Without Weapons, Jonathan Cape, London, 1951, p. 35.

95 Ibid.

96 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Rapport au Comité International de la Croix Rouge du voyage à Dessie du Docteur Junod du 7 décembre au 15 décembre 1935”, 17 December 1935 (author's translation).

97 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Texte du télégramme envoyé ce jour par sa majesté l'Empereur (Haile Sellassie I) au Secrétaire General de la Société des Nations à Genève”, 6 December 1935 (author's translation).

98 R. Baudendistel, above note 5, p. 124.

99 Ibid., p. 125.

100 Ibid., p. 104.

101 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Report No. 2”, 30 November 1935 (author's translation).

102 M. Junod, above note 94, p. 47.

103 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Rapport du Docteur Marcel Junod au Comité de la Croix Rouge sur le bombardement de la Croix Rouge suédoise par l'aviation italienne, le 30 – 12 – 35, à Melka Didaka”, 13 January 1936 (author's translation).

104 M. Junod, above note 94, p. 47.

105 Ibid.

106 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, Amharic pamphlet dropped by Italian planes thirty minutes before bombing the Swedish ambulance, undated (author's translation).

107 R. Baudendistel, above note 5, p. 132.

108 Ibid., p. 133.

109 Ibid., p. 137–138.

110 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, internal update to Geneva, 13 January 1936 (author's translation).

111 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Delegate Report No. 6”, 9 January 1936 (author's translation).

112 Ibid.

113 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, internal update to Geneva, 2 January 1936 (author's translation).

114 R. Baudendistel, above note 5, p. 138.

115 Ibid.

116 Ibid., p. 160.

117 “Abyssinian Atrocities Committed against Italian Workmen: Protest by the Italian Government to the League of Nations”, Communication from the Italian Government, Official No. C.123.M.62, Geneva, 19 March 1936.

118 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Extrait du supplément de presse” (Italian source), 25 January 1936 (author's translation).

119 R. Baudendistel, above note 5, p. 116.

120 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, telegram, 15 January 1936.

121 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Reports No. 7bis”, 20 January 1936 (author's translation).

122 Ibid.

123 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Report No. 13”, 25 March 1936 (author's translation).

124 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Reports No. 7bis”, 20 January 1936 (author's translation).

125 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Report No. 14”, 18 April 1936. The delegate also notes that the Ethiopians were beginning to see the ICRC as “pro-Italian” as it had “not sufficiently reacted to the bombing of colleagues” (author's translation).

126 ICRCA, B CR 210-8, “Aeroplani e Crosci Rosse”, from Il Giornale d'Italia, sent from the Italian Red Cross to ICRC Geneva, 7 April 1936.

127 R. Baudendistel, above note 5, p. 112.

128 C. Moorehead, above note 44, p. 309.

129 ICRCA, B CR 210-15, “Report No. 13”, 25 March 1936 (author's translation).

130 Note that Japan had signed but not ratified 1929 Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War.

131 ICRCA, B CR 217-1, 1-105, telegram, Japanese Red Cross to ICRC Geneva, 17 August 1937.

132 ICRCA, B CR 217-1, 1-105, internal update to Geneva, 21 October 1937.

133 Ibid.

134 Ibid.

135 ICRCA, B CR 217-1, 1-105, telegrams, Japanese Red Cross to ICRC Geneva, 3 and 5 August 1937.

136 In Wousungohen, Poutoung and Wousoung respectively. ICRCA, B CR 217-1, 1-105, telegram, Japanese Red Cross to ICRC Geneva, 14 September 1937.

137 ICRCA, B CR 217-2, 106-200, telegraph, Japanese Red Cross to ICRC Geneva, 20 October 1937.

138 This includes incidents on 19, 23 and 30 August 1937. ICRCA, B CR 217-1, 1-105, “Telegrammes Retélégraphié par la Ligue des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge”, 29 August 1937.

139 Ibid. (author's translation). Protests against Japanese atrocities, including the bombing of hospitals supported or run by the Chinese Red Cross, were likewise relayed in the press during this same period. See “Les Japonais ont bombardé le camp de la Croix-Rouge”, Argus International de la Presse, 4 September 1937; “Nous sommes revenus au temps des barbares: Emouvant appel de Madame Chiang-Kai-Shek”, Argus International de la Presse, 18 September 1937; “Deux communications chinoises à la S.D.N. sur les bombardements des non-combattants et des villes ouvertes, l'emploi des balles dum-dum et des gaz toxiques par les Japonais”, Argus International de la Presse, 18 October 1937.

140 ICRCA, B CR 217-2, 106-200, internal update to Geneva, 21 October 1937.

141 ICRCA, B CR 217-3, 201-400, internal update to Geneva, 11 November 1937.

142 Ibid.

143 Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, Penguin, London, 1997, p. 115.

144 ICRCA, B CR 217-3, 201-400, Secretary of the International Red Cross Committee for Nanking to ICRC Delegate in Hankow, 22 December 1937.

145 Rabe, John, “Letter to Japanese Commander of Nanking”, in Shuhi, Hsü (ed.), Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone, Kelly & Walsh, Shanghai, 1939, pp. 23.

146 I. Chang, above note 143, p. 125.

147 Lewis S. C. Smythe, “Cases of Disorder by Japanese Soldiers in the Safety Zone”, in H. Shuhi (ed.), above note 145, p. 10; ICRCA, B CR 217-3, 201-400, Secretary of the International Red Cross Committee for Nanking to ICRC Delegate in Hankow, 22 December 1937.

148 ICRCA, B CR 217-4, 401-600, “Nanking Report” accompanying internal update to Geneva, 2 May 1938. The Report was drafted by members of the local International Red Cross Committee for Nanking and was considered “authentic” despite being unsigned due to the risk to the authors.

149 I. Chang, above note 143, pp. 144–147.

150 ICRCA, B CR 217-4, 401-600, “Nanking Report” accompanying internal update to Geneva, 2 May 1938.

151 Ibid.

152 I. Chang, above note 143, pp. 149–153.

153 ICRCA, B CR 217, “Activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross in China during the Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937–1939”, undated.

154 Ibid.

155 ICRCA, B CR 217-4, 401-600, letters to Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Imperial Government of Japan and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of China, 5 March 1938.

156 C. Moorehead, above note 44, p. 368.

157 Slim, Hugo, Killing Civilians: Method, Madness and Morality in War, Hurst & Co., London, 2007, p. 19.

158 C. Moorehead, above note 44, p. 617.

159 Desgrandchamps, Marie-Luce, “‘Organising the Unpredictable’: The Nigeria-Biafra War and its Impact on the ICRC”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 94, No. 888, 2012, pp. 14131414.

160 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.01, “Reference: Bombing, Strifing [sic] of Hospitals and Civilians”, internal update to Geneva, 26 February 1968. By February 1968 the ICRC Delegate and Special Representative to Biafra had identified eleven medical structures that had been attacked. Subsequent reports and analyses reveal five further incidents (the ICRC Community Hospital in Awo-Omamma being targeted twice).

161 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.05, “Letter of Protest” to Y.A. Gobir, Permanent Secretary to the Federal Military Government, 5 February 1968.

162 Ibid.

163 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.05, “Memorandum Concerning the Protection of Both Civilian and Military Hospitals in Time of War and Armed Conflict”, sent to the Federal Military Government of Nigeria from the ICRC, 7 February 1968.

164 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.05, letter from Permanent Secretary to Federal Military Government, 7 February 1968.

165 Ibid.

166 Ibid.

167 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.05, “Letter of Protest”, Moses M.K. Iloh, National Secretary, Biafran National Red Cross, to ICRC, 10 February 1968. The same letter noted the “distressing fact that the country [the United Kingdom] which sponsored Nigeria's admission into the International Red Cross is today sponsoring her acts of genocide”, including in its recent confirmation “that she was still supplying arms to Nigeria”.

168 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.05, letters from Overseas Council, Church of Scotland, to ICRC, 22 February and 26 March 1968.

169 Ibid. This reference was specifically towards the Hague Convention of 1907, although the protection of “neutralized” medical structures is the general understanding.

170 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.01, “Reference: Bombing, Strifing [sic] of Hospitals and Civilians”, internal update to Geneva, 26 February 1968.

171 Ibid.

172 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.02, “Letter of Protest” to Major General Yakubu Gowon, Head of the Federal Military Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, 21 May 1968.

173 Ibid.

174 From the attack on Mary Slessor Hospital in Itu: “[M]ilitary hospitals and mobile units for the medical services have been declared protected by Article I of the Geneva Convention of 1864, Article 6 of the Geneva Convention of 1906, Article 6 of the Geneva Convention of 1929 concerning wounded and sick in armed forces in the field and Articles 19 and 23 of the 1st Geneva Convention of 1949” (and “civilian hospitals are protected by the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Article 27 and by the IVth Geneva Convention of 1949, Article 18”). ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.05, “Memorandum Concerning the Protection of Both Civilian and Military Hospitals in Time of War and Armed Conflict”, sent to the Federal Military Government of Nigeria from the ICRC, 7 February 1968. From the continued attacks into May 1968: “This protest is based on the Articles 19, 21, 22 and the entire Chapter VII of the first Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, and on Article 18 of the fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of war”. ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.02, “Letter of Protest” to Major General Yakubu Gowon, Head of the Federal Military Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, 21 May 1968.

175 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.07, “Letter of Protest” to the Ministry of External Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 31 October 1968.

176 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.07, letter from Ministry of External Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Commissioner-General, 12 November 1968.

177 Ibid.

178 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.01, “Reference: Bombing, Strifing [sic] of Hospitals and Civilians”, internal update to Geneva, 26 February 1968.

179 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.08, “Letters of Protest” to the Ministry of External Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 10 December 1968 and 6 January 1969.

180 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.08, “Attaque d'un hôpital du CICR au Biafra”, ICRC Press Release (Communiqué No 925), 12 December 1968; and “Bombardement d'un hôpital CICR au Biafra”, ICRC Press Release (Communiqué No 940), 7 January 1969 (author's translation).

181 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.01, “Reference: Bombing, Strifing [sic] of Hospitals and Civilians”, internal update to Geneva, 26 February 1968.

182 Ibid.

183 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.05, letter from Permanent Secretary to Federal Military Government, 7 February, 1968.

184 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.12, “Operational Code of Conduct for Nigerian Armed Forces”, undated but shared with ICRC on 28 December 1967.

185 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.02, letter from Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations to ICRC (No. GI/11/S247), 11 March 1969.

186 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.02, internal update to Geneva (Note confidentielle No. P-5), 28 May 1968 (author's translation).

187 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.02, letter from Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations to ICRC (No. GI/11/S247), 11 March 1969.

188 Ibid.

189 Ibid.

190 C. Moorehead, above note 44, p. 618.

191 Bouchet-Saulnier, Françoise and Whittall, Jonathan, “An Environment Conducive to Mistakes? Lessons learnt from the Attack on the Médecins Sans Frontières Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 100, No. 907–909, 2019, p. 339.

192 ICRCA, B AG 202 147-008.08, “Bombardement de l'hôpital d'Owa Omamma au Biafra”, 27 December 1968 (author's translation).

193 B. Taithe, above note 4, p. 42.

194 Stafford House Committee for the Relief of Sick and Wounded Turkish Soldiers, Report and Record of the Operations of the Stafford House Committee, Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78, Spottiswoode & Co., London, 1879, p. 50.

195 C. Moorehead, above note 44, p. 147.

196 Ibid.

197 S. McGreal, above note 52, pp. 13–14.

198 Hastings, Max, The Korean War, Pan Books, London, 1987, pp. 475476.

199 C. Moorehead, above note 44, pp. 570, 573, 575–579.

200 ICRCA, B AG 202 056-026, “Réflexions et commentaires sur le conflit de Corée”, ICRC internal review, undated.

201 Rochat, André, L'Homme à la Croix, Editions de l'Aire, Lausanne, 2005, pp. 231241; Clark, Victoria, Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2010, pp. 9697.

202 ICRCA B AG 202 225, “C'est la tuberculose et non pas un gaz toxique qui aurait tué les Saoudiens”, Al-Akbahr, 22 January 1967 (author's translation). In this case the use of “chlorine gas” was determined in a subsequent scientific analysis. “Concerne: Evénements survenus à Ketaf (Yémen) le 5 janvier 1967”, Universität Bern: Gerechtlich-Medizenisches Institut, 1 February 1967.

203 Michel Barde, La Croix-Rouge et la révolution indochinoise: Histoire du Comité International de la Croix-Rouge dans la guerre du Vietnam, Centre de Documentation de Recherche sur l'Asie, Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales, Geneva, undated; “Chapter XVI: The Seizure and Destruction of Medical Resources”, in Seymour Melman, In the Name of America, Turnpike Press, Annandale, VA, 1968, pp. 411–420.

204 Anthony Ripley, “Report of Damage to Hanoi Hospital Confirmed by US”, New York Times, 3 January 1973.

205 Ibid.

206 Ibid.

207 M. Montani, above note 14.

208 Mariano Castillo, “U. N. Rep Accuses Saudi-Led Coalition of Violating International Law, CNN, 12 May 2015, available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/09/asia/saudi-airstrikes-yemen; Samuel Oakford, “Exclusive: Saudi Arabia Admits Bombing MSF Hospital in Yemen – But Faults MSF”, Vice, 27 October 2015, available at: https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/kz9zxy/exclusive-saudi-arabia-admits-bombing-msf-hospital-in-yemen-but-faults-msf.

209 Kareem Shaheen and Ian Black, “Airstrike on MSF-Backed Aleppo Hospital Kills Patients and Doctors”, The Guardian, 28 April 2016, available at: www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/28/deadly-airstrike-on-hospital-aleppo-syria-reports-say.

210 Alexander, Amanda, “A Short History of International Humanitarian Law”, European Journal of International Law, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2015, pp. 112113.

211 As described in the case of Nanking, appropriation of the Red Cross name and emblem had no impact. Arguably a contemporary parallel can be found in the recourse to underground hospitals in parts of opposition-held Syria.

212 François Delfosse, “Médecins Sans Frontières on Attacks on Hospitals and the Protection of Health Care in Time of Conflict”, Politorbis, No. 65, January 2018, p. 30.

213 Ibid.

214 As noted in the case study of the Franco-Prussian War, the then president of the International Committee was convinced that the belligerent governments must “punish” transgressors of the Geneva Convention. G. Moynier, above note 25, p. 44. The Leipzig war crimes trial after World War I and the Nigerian government's internal investigations in Biafra were also mentioned but were not analysed in detail.

215 MSF, above note 10.

216 Sa'Da, Caroline Abu, Duroch, Françoise and Taithe, Bertrand, “Attacks on Medical Missions: Overview of a Polymorphous Reality: The Case of Médecins Sans Frontières”, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 95, No. 890, 2013, p. 319.

217 Rony Brauman, President, MSF, “Rapport Moral 1983”, General Assembly, May 1984 (author's translation).

218 Ibid.

* The views expressed in this article are those of the author and in no way represent the organization to which he belongs. The author extends his appreciation to Françoise Duroch, Amy Mavor, Philippe Calain, Camille Michel, Maria Guevara and Xavier Crombé for their support and valuable comments.

Keywords

Medical care in armed conflict: Perpetrator discourse in historical perspective

  • Duncan McLean

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed