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Wars have laws: How do we get more people to comply with them to reduce humanitarian suffering?

Watch the lecture and Q&A with Sir Mark Lowcock

Lecture by UN OCHA Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs / Emergency Relief Coordinator,
Sir Mark Lowcock

On the occasion of 50 Years of Humanitarian Assistance in the Federal Foreign Office,  Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs (USG), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) and Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) Sir Mark Lowcock spoke about why compliance with IHL and respect for the humanitarian principles are vital for ensuring civilians receive the humanitarian assistance they need for their survival. Lowcock presented his perspective on practical measures that Member States, non-state armed groups, and humanitarian actors can all take to ensure that humanitarian personnel and objects are respected and protected, and that relief operations are carried out without arbitrary or unlawful impediments. He also offered his views on good practices to implement IHL. Given that a common underlying challenge in many of today’s conflicts is one of political will to adhere to international law even when the rules are known, Lowcock examined what measures of influence can be exerted to ensure respect for IHL and the humanitarian principles in the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and, more broadly, to enhance the protection of civilians. The lecture provides an overview of experience in the field, including current access and protection challenges.

Words of welcome from Başak Çalı, Professor of International Law, Hertie School and from Rüdiger König, Director-General for Crisis Prevention, Stabilization, Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Assistance in the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO).

Mark Lowcock is the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and Emergency Relief Coordinator. With over 30 years of humanitarian and development experience, Lowcock serves as the chief coordinator of the world’s humanitarian response in times of urgent crises. In his most recent position, as Permanent Secretary for the Department for International development (DFID), Lowcock led the United Kingdom’s humanitarian response to conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Libya, as well as to natural disasters in the Philippines and Nepal. Prior to his leadership position in DFID, Lowcock served the Department as Director-General for Africa and Asia, coordinating its response to humanitarian emergencies in Haiti, Pakistan and Myanmar. He previously served as Director-General for both Policy and Corporate Performance, as well as Director of Finance.

The event was hosted in partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO).