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The Pros And Cons Of Sieges

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The use of sieges as a tactic of war is not always condemned. Sieges are tolerated under international humanitarian law as long as they are in compliance with all applicable regulations and their purpose is to achieve a military objective, such as the capture of an uninhabited enemy-controlled area. However, a siege should not target civilian objects or cause any damage to the civilian population. In fact, individuals taking no active part in hostilities should always receive humane treatment. To that end, there are some IHL rules that need to be respected in siege warfare in order for it to be permissible. The wounded and the sick must evacuate the area and be cared for. Diplomats and citizens of neutral States residing in a besieged area…show more content…
“Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless, for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works” (APII Art. 14). No exceptions are made concerning this prohibition, the violation of which constitutes a war crime. It is important to bear in mind that causing suffering to the population is adequate proof of a violation and needs to be addressed before the civilians starve to death. Normally, acts that are known to cause a shortage of food supplies in a region, such as sieges, naval or aerial blockades and economic sanctions, are regulated by international law. The parties are under the obligation to permit the free passage of relief supplies. As long as the parties manage to meet this obligation, the starvation of civilians is rather improbable. However, in most cases, relief actions do not manage to reach the war zones and deliver goods to the civilian population. It should be noted that humanitarian relief provided to war-torn areas is not limited to food supplies. According to the relevant provisions of IHL, foodstuffs, whether in the form of…show more content…
In a siege of low or moderate intensity, one can potentially smuggle in limited amounts of supplies or buy them on the black market for elevated prices. Residents may have access to alternative food sources such as the local agricultural production. The UN and other humanitarian organizations may manage to negotiate few, if any, aid deliveries but the assistance that does pass in is rarely enough for the besieged population. Civilians in these areas are at some risk of malnourishment or dehydration and denial of medical care. The areas are sporadically subject to attacks by besieging forces. In a siege of high intensity, very little is able to enter through smuggling or bribery while alternative food sources are not available. The UN and other humanitarian organizations can negotiate very few, if any, aid deliveries and supplies that do arrive are insufficient for the population. Civilians are at high risk of malnourishment or dehydration and denial of medical care. The besieging forces regularly launch attacks against the
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