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14 Starvation and Sieges

From: The Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions in Context

Annyssa Bellal, Stuart Casey-Maslen

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 11 December 2023

War crimes — Armed conflict — Conduct of hostilities

This chapter covers sieges and starvations as methods of warfare. It explains that international humanitarian law (IHL) does not exactly prohibit sieges, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) affirmed that the prohibition of starvation as a method of warfare does not render siege warfare unlawful. Moreover, the Additional Protocols in 1977 outlawed the starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare since it was a serious violation of IHL and a war crime. The chapter acknowledges the possibility of sieges becoming the likely future for the conduct of military operations, especially considering the devastation it would be to civilians. It notes the duty of States and armed groups to not arbitrarily withhold consent to humanitarian relief for a starving civilian population in a besieged area.

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