Civil-Military Coordination in Humanitarian Protection

Especially in complex humanitarian emergencies, effective civil-military coordination can be crucial to maintaining humanitarian access, protecting civilians, and managing the security of aid workers. After all, military forces often play a lead role in response to natural disasters or conflicts. Yet “civ-mil” coordination poses a number of challenges, particularly in terms of preserving the neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian operations while operating alongside militaries.

This podcast will explore legal and operational challenges associated with civil-military engagement in Pakistan, which puts the challenges of civ-mil engagement in stark relief. There, armed conflict, instability and natural disasters have combined in recent years to produce a series of complex humanitarian crises and the large-scale displacement. With the military controlling access and aid distribution to significant areas of the country as part of counter-insurgency operations, humanitarian operations have depended on close coordination with military forces. In the process, however, humanitarian agencies have struggled to secure access to vulnerable populations while maintaining adherence to the humanitarian principles. With their neutrality, impartiality and independence frequently called into question by anti-government forces, aid workers have come under frequent attack in Pakistan; at least 90 have been killed in the country since 2001. 

March, 2015