Health Workers Under Fire - letter to Australia Foreign Minister from MAPW President Dr Margaret Beavis

The Hon Julie Bishop MP

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Parliament House, Canberra

30th November, 2016


Dear Minister,

Re: Australia’s response to ongoing attacks on health facilities and health workers in conflict zones

As health professionals we are deeply troubled by the ongoing attacks on medical facilities in conflict zones. Internationally there has been little attempt to either prevent these attacks or to instigate independent investigations after they occur. The pattern of health facilities and workers becoming deliberate targets in war zones is totally unacceptable, and must be addressed.

Recently the Secretary General of United Nations presented his recommendations to the UN Security Council on the operationalisation of UNSC Resolution 2286, adopted on May 3rd 2016, which relates to the protection of medical care in armed conflict. These recommendations present practical measure that could have significant positive humanitarian outcomes if adopted.

We see the Resolution 2286 and the related recommendations as a positive development in the international community’s attempts to turn this appalling trend around.

In particular we are interested to know what the government’s response will be to the following recommendations:

  • Recommendation 2. Reinforcing national legislative frameworks,
  • Recommendation 8. Reporting on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2286 (2016)
  • Recommendation 9. Adopting, reviewing, revising and implementing operational precautionary measures
  • Recommendation 11. Ensuring full, prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigations into serious violations of international law relating to the protection of medical care in armed conflict
  • Recommendation 12. Ensuring that individuals suspected of perpetrating serious violations of international law relating to the protection of medical care in armed conflict are prosecuted.

We ask that Australia actively endorses these resolutions, and that your government will implement all of them.

Could you advise what measures, policies or other directives currently ensure that the Australian Defence Forces meet best practice in terms of humanitarian protection?

Could you please also advise what specific measures are taken to protect health facilities, patients and staff in the conflicts where ADF is active?

Yours sincerely,


Dr Margaret Beavis MBBS, FRACGP,MPH

National President


 Cc  Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Defence