Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Protection of Medical Personnel and Operations at the Frontlines

Recent high-profile attacks on humanitarian professionals and operations in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among others, call attention to the growing vulnerabilities of humanitarian staff and medical operations at the frontlines. These attacks endanger lives, violate international humanitarian law, and jeopardize the effective delivery of emergency relief to populations in need. In such contexts, humanitarian organizations face difficult legal and operational challenges in reaching populations, while ensuring protection of their own staff and local partners from targeted violence. National staff members are particularly vulnerable; yet tend to receive significantly less protection. In such volatile environments, humanitarian professionals must negotiate with a variety of stakeholders to secure space and protection for humanitarian operations and infrastructure. Despite efforts build acceptance or to take protective and deterrent measures, significant gaps remain in their protection from targeted violence.

This panel discussion, organized in collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School's Middle East Initiative, will explore the opportunities and challenges of negotiating protections for medical missions at the frontline, focusing particularly on tools and methods to strengthen humanitarian operations and negotiation capacity in complex environments.

October, 2016