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The protection of health facilities and other civilian targets under international law

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Scott Ludlam 4 May 2016

Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia—Co-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (15:50):  I ask that general business notice of motion No. 1, standing in my name today and related to the status of health facilities and the bombing of MSF facilities in particular under international law, be taken as a formal motion.

The PRESIDENT:  Is there any objection to this motion being taken as formal?

An opposition senator:  Yes.

The PRESIDENT:  Formality is not granted.

Senator LUDLAM:  I seek leave to make a brief statement.

The PRESIDENT:  Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator LUDLAM:  I would also appreciate from the whips who it was who denied leave. I understand it was actually Labor, but I would appreciate some clarification.

This is not a complex foreign policy matter. I find it breathtaking that formality has been denied to take a vote that asks nothing of anybody except the expression of this Senate in support of international law that hospitals are not military targets. How on earth has that become controversial? That should be an absolutely unanimous resolution of this Senate. The protection of health facilities and other civilian targets in international law, including the Geneva Conventions, should be uncontroversial. It should not be something that we even need to raise in here. Seventy-five MSF hospitals and supported hospitals suffered 106 bombing and shell attacks in 2015 alone. Please rethink this. I do not understand why leave has been denied for a simple, unanimous Senate resolution on this crucial question.

 

3 May 2016
NOTICE OF MOTION

I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move that -

The Senate:

a) Notes

i. the protection of health facilities and other civilian targets under international law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Optional Protocols of 1977;

ii. In 2015 alone, seventy-five Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospitals and supported-hospitals suffered 106 bombing and shell attacks;

iii. In September 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 654 medical personnel had been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, and that almost 60% of hospitals were either partially functional or completely out of service.

b) Condemns the deadly attacks on hospitals that are occurring at an increasingly alarming rate in conflict around the world, particularly in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan;

c) Calls on the conflicting parties in conflicts to respect the basic principles of International humanitarian law and refrain from deliberately targeting civilian infrastructures;

d) Re-affirms the status of health facilities as neutral, protected spaces under international law.

Senator Scott Ludlam
Australian Greens

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