International Bar Association calls for Gaza ceasefire 

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By Thomas Connelly on

Reminds both sides of their obligations under human rights and criminal law

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and the creation of humanitarian corridors and civilian safe havens.

The institute urged all parties to take appropriate steps to remove children from harm and called on on the United Nations and the international community to support those efforts. It also appealed for the immediate and safe return of all hostages taken into Gaza.

The appeal follows a separate statement it issued last month condemning Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel, which it described as a “clear violation of human rights and humanitarian law”.

In weeks following, the IBAHRI said it had been closing monitoring the “fast-moving and evolving events”, and that it understood the “requirement for context while not condoning actions or viewing in a vacuum”.

The institute said it wanted to “firmly” remind all parties that the principle of proportionality applied to all uses of military force, irrespective of the rationale.

It also stressed that humanitarian law principles of distinction — the difference between military and civilian objects, and the duty to protect the latter — and proportionality were sacred, and must be complied with.

The group also stressed that international human rights law and international criminal law continued to apply in armed conflict.

The statement, signed off by IBAHRI’s director Baroness Helena Kennedy KC and co-chairs Anne Ramberg and Mark Stephens, continued:

“These are well-established principles of international law, rooted in the imperative to take every and all measures necessary in order to protect human life and uphold human dignity, even in war. They need to be followed in the interest of us all, including Israelis and Palestinians.”

The IBAHR added that if one party does not adhere to the rule of law, “a green light is not given to the other side to ignore the laws of armed conflict”.

“In confronting Hamas’s crimes and upholding Israel’s right to defend itself,” the group said, “the above-mentioned principles, grounded in the rule of law, the laws of war and human rights, must be upheld and adhered to at all times.”

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