At the United Nations headquarters in Geneva On October 31, 2015, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer presented an unprecedented joint warning.
It is very rare that the ICRC makes public criticisms of governments, in part because of the fear that a criticized government would cut off relations and end the ICRC efforts to help the wounded, prisoners of war, and others covered by the Red Cross mandate. The public and high-profile statement alongside Ban Ki-moon is an indication of widespread fears that the recent attacks against hospitals in Afghanistan and Yemen could weaken and perhaps destroy the laws of war, now called humanitarian law.
Standing next to Ban Ki-moon, Peter Maurer said,
If States, other actors in conflict, and the international community as a whole do not act responsibly now, there will be millions more victims. Acting responsibly means redoubling efforts to achieve political solutions and, pending such achievements, ensuring that humanitarian principles and law are respected. Hospitals are being attacked, patients, doctors, nurses and humanitarian workers killed. When humanitarian law and principles are disregarded, when humanitarian needs are trumped by political agendas, when access to the wounded and sick is denied, and when security concerns lead to a suspension of operations, people are abandoned, the notion of protection loses its meaning, and humanity is flouted.
International humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities and attacks that do not distinguish between civilians and combatants. The essential core of humanitarian law is the prohibition on attacking hospitals, medical personnel and the wounded unable to continue fighting.