Call to Action from the Bellagio Conference on Protection of Health Workers, Patients, and Facilities in Times of Violence

12/18/2013
Call to Action

From November 19-21, the Center for Public Health and Human Rights of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health convened 19 experts from the fields of humanitarian practice, human rights, human security, academic research, government, and philanthropy, along with UN representatives and leaders from health professional associations, to address the grave problem of attacks on and interference with health care, particularly in times of armed conflict and internal disturbances. Participants met in Bellagio, Italy, and included eight individuals whose organizations are members of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition:

  • Joseph Amon, Director, Health and Human Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
  • Emily Clouse, Senior Research Coordinator, Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Ran Cohen, Executive Director, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
  • Katherine Footer, Research Associate, Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Leonard Rubenstein, Director, Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict, Center for Public Health and Human Rights, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Zaher Sahloul, President, Syrian American Medical Society
  • Judith Shamian, President, International Council of Nurses
  • Susannah Sirkin, Director, International Policy and Engagement, Physicians for Human Rights

The group of experts issued a call to action, which begins as follows:

International humanitarian and human rights law recognizes the obligation and/or the responsibility of governments and non-state actors to respect and protect health workers, facilities, medical transports, and the people they serve. Violations undermine the human security and health of conflict-affected populations, disrupt health systems and undermine equitable access to health care, resulting in avoidable loss of life and human suffering. We, the assembled, believe urgent action is needed to address the problem and call upon the international community to advance the security of health, particularly in situations of armed conflict and internal disturbances, through the following actions: [Continue reading the call to action]