Lessons Learned? The Role of Humanitarians in Protection Response (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 16)

The performance of the international humanitarian system has been under the scrutiny of a number of evaluative reports in recent months – particularly in relation to its actions and inactions in Sri Lanka, 2009. Notably, the reports present a steadfast recognition that lessons must be learned within and across organizations. However, how such conclusions will be integrated in practice still remains unclear. Faced with a state apparatus determined to dictate the parameters of access while simultaneously unable or unwilling to protect the population, the international humanitarian community has often been unable to act in a strategic, coordinated manner. Fingers have been pointed at staff that “had insufficient political expertise and experience in armed conflicts and in human rights,” and were “not given sufficient policy and political support.” Ensuring that field-based staff has the necessary skills and support to make tough choices is, of course, of great importance.

March, 2013