Media release

Doctors and other health workers must be protected in times of armed conflict and violence

WMA Regulations in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence


The AMA Federal Council has adopted the World Medical Association’s WMA Regulations in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence as formal AMA policy.

The Regulations outline the duties of doctors working in armed conflict and other situations of violence and address the obligations of Governments, armed forces, and others in positions of power to allow health care personnel to fulfil their ethical duties to care for the sick and wounded, and to provide protection for health care personnel and facilities such as hospitals.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the WMA Regulations have taken on greater relevance and significance with health workers being placed in vulnerable and dangerous situations in world trouble spots like Syria.

“There was news overnight of a young Syrian surgeon working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) being killed in the north of Syria, where he was working at an MSF-run hospital treating victims of Syria’s civil conflict,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Doctors must never be prosecuted or punished or killed or injured for complying with their ethical obligations to provide care.

“Doctors and other health workers must be allowed to provide care to everyone in need, whether civilian or a combatant.

“Medical ethics in times of conflict is identical to medical ethics in times of peace.

“Doctors must always give someone the necessary care impartially and without discrimination.

“All health workers must be protected when they are caring for the sick and the injured during times of conflict.”

Dr Hambleton said the AMA is pleased that the Australian Government today announced that it would continue to push for international support at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg for a medical pact to protect doctors and health workers in Syria.

“The Australian plan being taken to the G20 involves all sides in the Syrian conflict making a commitment not to target medical personnel, not to block access to doctors, hospitals or emergency care, and not to attack medical facilities,” Dr Hambleton said.

“The AMA supports this plan.”

The document, WMA Regulations in Times of Armed Conflict and Other Situations of Violence, is available at

6 September 2013

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