Humanity is identified and defined by its sole intention and purpose to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it can be found; To protect life and health and to ensure respect for human beings. In order to guarantee the humanitarian character of an aid organization or operation, it must be possible to demonstrate that humanity is the only concern taken into account. This principle implies that any humanitarian organization must be free from any other program and independent of constraints other than humanitarian constraints.* This article was written by Sangeet Kumar Khamari of KIIT School of Law, Odisha. This article deals with the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and its international conventions as well as current developments. The content of humanitarian principles has always been developed within the Red Cross and Red Crescent movements in order to shape their organization and internal activities in accordance with IHL. The definition and operational implementation of humanitarian principles has come under pressure in many situations of armed conflict and has fuelled important legal and ethical debates between the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other humanitarian organizations (III). This applies in particular to the definition of how the principles can determine the responsibility of humanitarian organizations that witness mass crimes and serious violations of IHL (IV). There is no doubt that the provision of purely humanitarian assistance to individuals or armed forces in another country, regardless of their political affiliation or objectives, cannot be the 1991 United Nations Guiding Principles on Humanitarian Assistance which refer to a wider range of 12 general principles designed for natural disasters and emergencies and not for situations. of armed conflict. It recognizes that humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity, impartiality and neutrality, but does not mention independence. It also makes explicit reference to the principle of State consent to humanitarian assistance and respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of the State. The application of the latter principles is limited by the provisions of international humanitarian law relating to humanitarian assistance in armed conflict. The rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) aim to regulate conflicts in order to minimize human suffering.

IHL reflects a balance between military necessity in conflict and the need for humanitarian protection. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement refers to seven fundamental principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. The fundamental humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence form the four common principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as the resolutions of the United Nations and other regional organizations such as the European Union and the African Union. IHL is both simple and complex in terms of objectives, underlying principles and associated challenges: the debate on the neutrality of humanitarian action reflects a key question: is there a principle of accountability for which humanitarian organizations are responsible in situations of extreme violence and mass criminality against the population? In 1992, the ICRC updated its doctrine of neutrality, recognizing that public condemnation of the violation of IHL by parties to the conflict did not constitute a violation of the principle of neutrality. This second principle implies that humanitarian action is not carried out on an equal but equitable basis, according to the vulnerability and specific needs of the persons and populations concerned. Humanitarian actors have the power to discriminate based on the size and urgency of their needs. This principle of impartiality and non-discrimination among victims has been recognized by the International Court of Justice as a priority in order to distinguish between legitimate humanitarian action and illegal intervention by one State in the internal affairs of another State (infra jurisprudence). To a large extent, modern humanitarian action has evolved outside the movement, and humanitarian principles have been the subject of much critical debate and different interpretations aimed at improving the effectiveness of humanitarian relief efforts. This applies in particular to the principle of neutrality.

Some humanitarian actors considered that the strict interpretation of this principle, combined with respect for absolute confidentiality, constituted an obstacle to the effective protection of victims of conflicts. •These humanitarian principles must be implemented in relief operations, as it is respect for these principles that gives humanitarian organizations the right to be present on the ground in the context of IHL in times of armed conflict. Being neutral means not taking sides in a conflict, either directly or by marriage with either party to the conflict. This term is linked to international politics: some states developed the concept of neutrality in order to stay out of military alliances and conflicts in which their neighbors were involved. When extending this concept to humanitarian organizations, it must be approached and interpreted differently. The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are at the heart of international humanitarian law and also of international law, which regulates the conduct of armed conflicts and seeks to limit its effects. In particular, they protect persons who are not taking part in hostilities, such as civilians, health workers, development workers and those who are no longer taking part in hostilities, such as wounded and sick soldiers and prisoners of war. Once these borders are crossed, as soon as the perpetrators of war crimes are not held responsible for their transposition, there is a natural impulse to reject international humanitarian law as lacking any “real” normative force. This may be a visible response, but it does not understand the complexity of international humanitarian law.

Since 1949, the humanitarian principles of humanity and impartiality have been an integral part of IHL, the law applicable in situations of armed conflict. They articulate the concepts of military necessity with humanitarian needs. The principles of humanity and impartiality are complemented by the principle of neutrality associated with the protected civil status of IHL, which is granted to humanitarian aid operations and personnel. They are also the starting point for other principles of international humanitarian law that apply to relief operations in armed conflict. ➔ International humanitarian law __ ▸ Non-governmental organizations __ ▸ Protection __ ▸ Red Cross and Red Crescent __ ▸ Relief __ ▸ Liability __ ▸ Right of access __ ▸ Law __ Humanitarian principles are part of international law, including international humanitarian law. In concrete terms, this means that in situations of armed conflict, the principle of military necessity, which governs the conduct of hostilities, is limited and is reflected in the principle of the humanitarian imperative that governs relief operations. This is reflected in the humanitarian principles derived from IHL (I). Humanitarian principles are also supported in many United Nations resolutions. However, in the context of United Nations resolutions, humanitarian principles applicable to the situation of armed conflict remain subject to the political pressure of the concept of State sovereignty, which leads to tensions between the fundamental humanitarian principles and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Humanitarian Assistance adopted in 1991 (II). Humanitarian principles are among the oldest references that define humanitarian action both in terms of its fundamental character and its practical use. They define the acceptable conditions under which humanitarian assistance can be safely delivered to populations and areas affected by violence and armed conflict. It is an international treaty on treaties between States drafted by the United Nations International Law Commission and adopted on 23 May 1969 and entered into force on 27 January 1980.