Humanitarian Action under Scrutiny: Criminalizing Humanitarian Engagement

Published: 
Feb 2012

The Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University (HPCR) is a research and policy program based at the Harvard School of Public Health in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Program is engaged in research and advisory services on humanitarian operations and the protection of civilians in conflict areas. The Program advises organizations such as the United Nations, governments, and non-governmental actors, and focuses on the protection of vulnerable groups, conflict prevention, strategic planning for human security, and the role of information technology in emergency response. The Program was established in August 2000 in close cooperation with the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations.

This Working Paper presents HPCR’s research to date on dilemmas arising from the intersection between, on the one hand, counterterrorism laws and policies prohibiting engagement with certain non-state entities and, on the other, humanitarian access and protection of civilians in armed conflict. This Working Paper aims to provide HPCR’s initial analysis of these dilemmas and to suggest key areas for future research and policy engagement.