Aid providers have attempted to deliver help to those injured on the battlefield, regardless of their allegiances, since the establishment of the Red Cross. As a result, international humanitarian law has established the right of relief agencies to provide assistance as long as they respect the principles of humanitarianism by treating individuals humanely and without any form of discrimination when dispensing aid. To put this into practice, major humanitarian organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (lCRC) base their actions and presence on two fundamental principles: independence and neutrality.
Humanitarian organizations must, by their words and their deeds, provide de facto evidence of their humanitarian nature by respecting these principles. If they fail to do so they can be suspected of being complicit with one side or another -or of having ulterior motives. It is on this basis, with varying degrees of success, that humanitarian organizations have been negotiating with armed forces as they seek to carry out their work. This is what humanitarian agencies refer to as “humanitarian space”, which is a domain that must be earned and confirmed each day.