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1 The Role of Physicians in Armed Conflict

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides an overview of medical actors in an armed conflict, the most general guiding principles, and medical ethics. Following the overview, the modern relevance of the problem is highlighted by looking at two specific areas of concern: physicians' involvement in interrogations and force feeding of hunger strikers. One can generally distinguish three categories of physicians active in armed conflicts. Firstly, there are military physicians. Secondly, there are civilian physicians who work in national civilian institutions of a state party of an armed conflict, such as clinics or hospitals. Thirdly, since the previous century there has been an increase of physicians working for humanitarian aid organizations. Their level of protection depends on their status under international humanitarian law: if they have received the consent of one of the parties to the conflict and are impartial, they will be protected.

Keywords: armed conflict; international humanitarian law; medical ethics; physicians



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