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Saving the Enemy? Military Medical Personnel under Fire

Lightning-fast decisions are required between life and death. Whom to treat first in light of limited resources – the fellow soldier, the civilian or the enemy? In the field, this question often leads to moral conflicts. Is it at all possible to reconcile military necessity with the principles of medical ethics, and who helps the helpers? Military medical personnel in conflict with ethics and International Humanitarian Law.
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By subordinating medical assistance to military objectives, we are putting our humanity at risk.
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Purely strategic medical humanitarian assistance poses problems for U.S. military doctors, and lowers their motivation.
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Military doctors and medics often go beyond their humanitarian role and risk criminal liability.
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National security interests and the ethics of care allow preferential treatment of one’s own soldiers.
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Ethics in the Field: The Experiences of Canadian Military Healthcare Professionals

B. Williams-Jones, S. de Laat, M. Hunt, C. Rochon, A. Okhowat, L. Schwartz, J. Horning

Study shows: Ethical dilemmas arise mainly from the complexity of international missions, less from a dual role.
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Unnatural enhancements for body and brain – therapy, doping and performance pressure for soldiers violate medical ethical principles
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International law and medical ethics require military doctors to treat enemies and fellow soldiers equally.
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Humanitarianism as a political weapon endangers human lives
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Special: Helpers in Danger – New Challenges in Armed Conflicts


Bombed hospitals and medical personnel under threat – war does not stop even for helpers. Kidnappings of employees of international aid organizations are becoming reality more and more. In recent years, the number of humanitarian workers who have come under attack in war zones and crisis areas has increased significantly. From 2012 to 2014, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recorded 4,275 helpers and patients who fell victim to violent attacks in 11 countries. During the same period, there were 60 cases of medical facilities being misused as a military base.
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Violence against doctors and patients is increasing in armed conflicts. Only international efforts can protect healthcare.

Asymmetric warfare and new enemies challenge the rules of war. Why values are getting more and more important.

When giving up their special status, military medical personnel face high risks

Who Helps the Helpers? The First German Military Chaplain on an Ebola Mission

An interview with Andreas-Christian Tübler by Gertrud Maria Vaske

Joint operations with armed forces and NGOs can be fruitful for all parties in humanitarian missions.