Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Gender and Diversity

Personal relationships and trust-building constitute critical dimensions of frontline humanitarian negotiations. In order to operate effectively, in many contexts, humanitarian organizations must first ensure that they are accepted by the parties to a conflict, and establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with counterparts. Moreover, frontline negotiations occur in contexts of armed conflict or other types of violence that often accentuate or exacerbate the relevancy of personal identities such as gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, and age. In response to this aspect of the field environment, negotiation teams have become increasingly diverse in recent years, in terms of not only gender but also the “intersectionality” of these various aspects of identity. Yet, many frontline teams still do not effectively leverage the richness and diversity of their team members. For example, decisions about who should assume the role of lead negotiator in a given context are sometimes based on hierarchy alone, without considering the added value of negotiators with diverse identities across the team. Conversely, in theaters of operation where a conservative culture is prevalent, personnel diversity is sometimes discouraged, leading humanitarians to prioritize pragmatism over policies that would encourage inclusion and diversity.

Through discussions with experts and humanitarian practitioners, this podcast will explore the impact of gender and other aspects of diversity on frontline humanitarian negotiations.

November, 2016