This blog is part of a series about the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA) conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In this piece, Dorothea Hilhorst (Professor of Humanitarian Studies at ISS, outgoing IHSA President) and Sk. Tawfique M Haque (Professor and Chair of Political Science and Sociology, North South University) present a statement made by participants of a roundtable held at the conference to take stock of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
At the IHSA biennial conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a roundtable took place on the ongoing violence and humanitarian catastrophe in Palestine. The roundtable included contributions from Professor Dorothea Hilhorst (outgoing IHSA President), Research Professor Antonio De Lauri (incoming IHSA President), Professor Sk. Tawfique M. Haque (North South University), Professor Shahidul Haque (North South University), Professor Mohamed Nuruzzaman (North South University), and Dr Kaira Zoe Canete (International Institute of Social Studies).
During the roundtable, several aspects of the ongoing humanitarian situation were discussed, including access for humanitarian aid, the interests and positions of stakeholders in the conflict more generally, ways to counter the situation being used to further polarize society, and what the role of Humanitarian Scholars is in the face of the situation.
The International Humanitarian Studies Association and Center for Peace Studies (CPS) at North South University would like to share this statement, following the roundtable:
We extend our solidarity and sorrow towards those grieving loved ones in Palestine and Israel, and deplore violence carried out during this conflict. As scholars and practitioners of Humanitarian Studies, we strongly condemn acts of widescale and indiscriminate violence against civilian populations. This extends not only to ongoing military violence, but the blocking of humanitarian aid and assistance.
These actions by the Israeli state and military amount to multiple breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), including the 1949 Geneva Convention that was signed by Israel. We condemn the collective punishment of over two million people in Gaza, of which more than half are children.
We also highlight UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2417, which condemns the use of starvation as a weapon of war, and confirms that any blocking of humanitarian aid breaks IHL. Further, we draw attention to Israel’s role as an occupying power in the Palestinian Territories, and its commitments to maintain medical services and infrastructure under IHL.
We call for respect for and adherence to IHL, International Criminal Law (ICL) and UNSC 2417 to prevent starvation (due to blocking access to food, water, electricity, health care and other items essential to survival) and death of civilians. This means allowing immediate access to aid for those who need it and protecting civilians.
Humanitarian Studies scholars need to use their knowledge and evidence to speak truth to power and counter any silencing mechanism that jeopardizes academic freedom and the freedom of expression. One of the challenges of wide-scale violence, wherever it happens, is that it makes us question the value of humanity. We need all voices in this discussion to maintain dignity and respect, and we condemn the use of antisemitic and Islamophobic language, as well as narratives of dehumanization and polarization especially when they come from powerful institutions, political leaders, and states.
For more information about the IHSA Conference, check out their website.
Opinions expressed in Bliss posts reflect solely the views of the author of the post in question.
About the authors:
Dorothea Hilhorst is professor of Humanitarian Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University.
Are you looking for more content about Global Development and Social Justice? Subscribe to Bliss, the official blog of the International Institute of Social Studies, and stay updated about interesting topics our researchers are working on.