As America prepares for a possible war in Iraq, most planning in the humanitarian area is focused on the delivery of food, medicine, and shelter to Iraqi civilians. But assaults, reprisals, massacres, and other human rights abuses perpetrated against the civilian population during or following a war should also cause concern, and they could undermine support for the U.S. operation. So could military operations with heavy “collateral damage.”
A panel of experts will analyze and answer questions about how a U.S. military campaign can be waged in Iraq so as to provide maximum protection for civilians. Among the questions to be addressed are: What are the responsibilities of an “occupying power” under the Geneva Conventions? When and where are abuses most likely to occur? How ready are American armed forces, civil affairs officers, and aid workers to provide protection to civilians from Iraqi forces, inter-ethnic fighting, and mob retribution? What capacity do nongovernmental organizations and international agencies have? What role can the media play?