This Live Seminar (originally broadcast on September 16, 2010) examined how recent legal and policy trends—punctuated by a June 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision—may fundamentally alter humanitarian engagement with non-state armed groups. In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a law criminalizing various forms of “material support” to prohibited groups. In light of that decision, related UN Security Council Resolutions, and other emerging challenges to humanitarian space, this Live Seminar addressed the following questions:
• What types of activities does Holder criminalize? Committed by whom, and where?
• How may humanitarian mandates drawn from international humanitarian law and human rights law conflict with laws criminalizing “material support” to non-state armed groups?
• What effect may these American laws have on non-U.S. organizations and individuals operating abroad? How may engaging with prohibited organizations trigger criminal or civil liability?
• How may laws regulating interactions with non-state armed groups inhibit humanitarian access to vulnerable populations?
• What implications arise for the core humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence, and impartiality in such contexts?
These questions were explored by reference to contemporary armed conflicts and to the applicable legal and policy frameworks.