Just days after Syrian government airstrikes on a hospital in Aleppo killed at least 50 people, on 3 May the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2286 on “healthcare in armed conflict.” Drafted by Egypt, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and Uruguay and co-sponsored by 84 UN Member States, the resolution called for greater protection for healthcare in armed conflict, noting that intentional attacks against hospitals and medical personnel are war crimes.
In his remarks during the briefing, the UN Secretary-General condemned deliberate attacks against healthcare in Syria, Iraq and South Sudan. According to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), there have been 94 attacks in Syria against hospitals and clinics MSF supports, while the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that at least 70 medical facilities in Yemen have been destroyed by parties to the conflict in the past year.
The resolution reaffirmed that States bear the primary responsibility to protect their populations and also stressed the importance of ensuring accountability for violations of international humanitarian law. This is the first UN Security Council resolution on healthcare in armed conflict and the forty-sixth to invoke the responsibility of States to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.