Prof. Boyle calls for humanitarian airdrop to starving civilians in 'safety zone'

[TamilNet, Thursday, 30 April 2009, 19:10 GMT]
Francis Boyle, professor of International Law at the University of Illinois College of Law, on Thursday called on India, the United States, Britain and France to fulfil their obligations under the Geneva Conventions and Protocol, and under the Genocide Convention by launching an immediate humanitarian air-drop relief operation for the starving Tamil civilians within the so-called safety zone, who are suffering without adequate humanitarian supplies for weeks. In a note sent to TamilNet, Prof. Boyle said starvation of civilians, as a method of warfare, can also constitute an act of genocide as defined by Article II (c) of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Prof. Francis Boyle
Prof. Francis A. Boyle, University of Illinois College of Law
"Article 54(1) of Additional Protocol I to the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 sets forth a rule of customary international humanitarian law that obligates every state in the world: "Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited." Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is a war crime. Every contracting party to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol has the obligation under Common Article 1 thereof "to respect" the Conventions and Protocol themselves and "to ensure respect" for the Conventions and Protocol "in all circumstances" by other contracting parties such as Sri Lanka.

"Furthermore, starvation of civilians as a method of warfare can also constitute an act of genocide as defined by Article II (c) of the 1948 Genocide Convention: "Deliberately inflicting on the group {in this case Tamils} conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." Every contracting state party to the Genocide Convention has the obligation "to prevent" genocide by Sri Lanka against the Tamils as required by Article I thereof.

"Therefore, every state party to the Geneva Conventions and Protocols as well as to the Genocide Convention have the solemn obligation to terminate GOSL's starvation of Tamils as a method of warfare. Under the current "circumstances" one of the most effective means this can be done is for those states with the capability (e.g., India, United States, Britain, France) to immediately undertake an airdrop of food and other humanitarian relief supplies to the starving Tamils in Vanni.

"I hereby call upon these states and in particular India, the United States, Britain and France to fulfil their obligations under the Geneva Conventions and Protocol as well as under the Genocide Convention by launching an immediate humanitarian air-drop relief operation for the benefit of the starving Tamils in Vanni, Sri Lanka."


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