An examination of the role of the ICRC humanitarian diplomacy in mitigating human suffering in the armed conflict in Afghanistan (2002-2014)
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Mitigation of human suffering in Afghanistan has been a mammoth task and remains a cause of concern. The currently ongoing phase which started in 2001 has been characterized with disregard of IHL, grave human suffering, given the increased use of more injurious means and methods of warfare by warring parties. In response, the ICRC has been engaging its humanitarian diplomacy to ensure development of IHL and parties compliance it, all for the alleviation and prevention of human suffering. Based on the hypothesis that, the ICRC humanitarian diplomacy in the armed conflict in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014 has made positive impact in respect to mitigation of human suffering. The main objective of this study was to examine the impact of the ICRC humanitarian diplomacy in ensuring the alleviation of human suffering in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. In that context following were the specific objectives of the study were; to discuss the humanitarian diplomacy of the ICRC as a key concept in the mitigating human suffering in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014 as in other armed conflict situations; to discuss asymmetric warfare as a concept and it‟s bearing on the mitigation of human suffering in light of the armed conflict in Afghanistan form 2001 to 2014 and to suggest recommendations for the improvement of the effectiveness of the ICRC humanitarian diplomacy in mitigating human suffering in Afghanistan. The study used qualitative research methodology. Data was collected using documentary and key informant, in-depth interviews. In this respect, content and thematic analyses were used in the presentation and analysis of findings. The findings of the study have established that; the humanitarian diplomacy of the ICRC in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014, has been delivering concrete results in ensuring the alleviation and prevention of human suffering. It resulted to more consideration by warring parties and other relevant stakeholders of the need to mitigate human suffering in Afghanistan, reduction of civilian deaths and casualties, securing of humanitarian access and space by the ICRC to mention but a few. However, the ICRC humanitarian diplomacy in Afghanistan continue to face challenges due to, the realistic nature of warring parties who pursue their self-interests at the expense of mitigation of human suffering, the overemphasis of confidential dialogue by the ICRC where public discussions will be feasible and above all, the discrepancy between the existing body of IHL and the asymmetric internationalized-NIAC in Afghanistan. Against this bedrock, the study surmised that though the ICRC humanitarian diplomacy in Afghanistan may not have been effective in all situations and continues to face challenges, it has made great impact and remains necessary rather than optional. To this end, the study recommended that; for continued relevance of IHL, relevant actors (state and non-state) need to acknowledge the limitations of existing body of IHL and to address them rather than avoiding them, warring parties in Afghanistan should desist from pursuing self-interest in disregard of the human suffering that result from their actions and that, the ICRC should be avoid overemphasising confidential dialogue were public discussions will be feasible.