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AUB at the UN General Assembly
9/26/2017
Barbara Rosica  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 

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A United Nations General Assembly High-Level Side Event organized by The Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict (http://www.aub.edu.lb/lcs) and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition took place at the UN Headquarters on September 22. Co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Canada, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom, the event, Protecting Health Care in Armed Conflict, addressed a sharp rise in the number of attacks on healthcare workers and institutions in combat zones. 

The “weaponization of healthcare” represents a clear violation of international laws and norms, which provide for the protection of healthcare workers in combat zones. A Commission study​ focusing on Syria, the country with the most attacks, found that healthcare workers and institutions are repeatedly and systematically targeted to shut down access to care, maim civilians, destroy infrastructure, and drive out health workers and civilians. 

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2286 in May 2016 calling for an end to all attacks on civilian healthcare infrastructure and the protection of health and aid workers. Political deadlock within the Council and a lack of commitment by many parties to armed conflict have prevented implementation, and attacks on healthcare have continued unabated.

The High-Level Side Event aimed to keep the discussion going to support international efforts, including those of the UN, to protect healthcare workers in conflict areas. The specific objectives were to provide an up-to-date overview of attacks on healthcare and related violations in armed conflicts; review efforts, including those of civil society internationally, to document, investigate, and respond to such violations; and to explore policy options to support UN efforts to address such violations.  

Dignitaries who opened the Side Event include the Minister of Health of Canada, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Vice Minister of International Development of the Netherlands, and Ambassador/Permanent Representative of the UK.

Event organizers and panelists include distinguished academics and civil society leaders. Representing the Commission was Iman Nuwayhid, Professor & Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut (AUB) and Co-Chair, The Lancet-AUB Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict. Representing the Coalition was Leonard Rubenstein, Coalition Chair, and Senior Scientist & Director, Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Other panelists included Naz Modirzadeh, Professor of Practice & Director, Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict (HLS PILAC); Ahmad Tarakji, President, Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) and Homer Venters, Director of Programs, Physicians for Human Rights, who also served as Moderator. 
Story Highlights
  • ​​A United Nations General Assembly High-Level Side Event organized by The Lancet-American University of Beirut Commission on Syria: Health in Conflict (http://www.aub.edu.lb/lcs) and the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition took place at the UN Headquarters on September 22. 
  • Co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Canada, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom, the event, Protecting Health Care in Armed Conflict, addressed a sharp rise in the number of attacks on healthcare workers and institutions in combat zones. 
 
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Email: media@aub.edu.lb
 
 
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