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Dustin A. Lewis, Radhika Kapoor, and Naz K. Modirzadeh, Advancing Humanitarian Commitments in Connection with Countering Terrorism: Exploring a Foundational Reframing concerning the Security Council (Harv. L. Sch. Program Int'l L. & Armed Conflict, 2021).

Abstract: States spend tens of billions of dollars each year to help implement humanitarian programs in conflicts across the world. Yet, in practice, counterterrorism objectives increasingly prevail over humanitarian concerns, often resulting in devastating effects for civilian populations in need of aid and protection in war. Not least, confusion and misapprehensions about the power and authority of States relative to the United Nations Security Council to set policy preferences and configure legal obligations contribute significantly to this trajectory. In a new guide for States published by the Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC), Dustin A. Lewis, Radhika Kapoor, and Naz K. Modirzadeh argue that it is possible — and, they believe, urgently called for — to arrest this trajectory and safeguard principled humanitarian action. In their view, short-term and ad-hoc solutions are less likely to uphold the humanitarian imperative. Instead, the authors present a framework for States to reconfigure the relations between these core commitments by deciding to assess the counterterrorism architecture through the lens of impartial humanitarianism. The authors also identify key questions that States may answer to help formulate and instantiate their values, policy commitments, and legal positions in order to advance the humanitarian imperative and uphold respect for principled humanitarian action in connection with carrying out the Security Council’s counterterrorism decisions.