IRRC No. 906

“Safe areas”: The international legal framework

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In recent years there have been repeated calls for the establishment of so-called "safe areas" to protect civilians from the effects of hostilities in a number of contexts. The present article presents the international law framework relevant to the establishment and operation of such areas: the provisions of international humanitarian law on protected zones; the rules regulating resort to armed force, Security Council authorization and mandates for the establishment of such areas by multinational forces in the absence of agreement between belligerents; and the refugee and international human rights issues raised by such zones.

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