This paper presents an overview of key challenges and dilemmas faced in the protection of humanitarian action and aims to provide an initial overview of the legal, policy, and operational trends and issues identified by ATHA through its ongoing research and discussions with practitioners. On the basis of this analysis, this paper addresses three key areas. The first section highlights knowledge and questions regarding security incidents, trends, and causes of violence, including around causes and motives for attacks, and tensions between individual and collective responses. The next section then explores the role of the humanitarian principles, and the perceptions of humanitarian actors, in affecting their security in the field. Building on this, the final section examines the protection of humanitarian action under international law, and the impunity gap resulting from effective implementation or enforcement of the law. The purpose of this paper is to provide key background information and to serve as a starting point for dialogue and reflection on the protection of humanitarian action from attack. It is based on research and consultations with experts and humanitarian practitioners in the field.
This report focuses on the role that laws and norms play in humanitarian negotiations. The report is based on an initial set of 35 interviews that conducted by the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA) with humanitarian professionals between May and August 2016. This document will sketch out ATHA’s preliminary findings and analysis. The report is divided into five sections. Section I offers information about the methodology of the interviews that constitute the core empirical foundation for this report’s findings. Section II focuses on the role of international laws and norms in humanitarian negotiations. Section III addresses other sources of laws and norms (e.g., national laws and Islamic Law) that humanitarian practitioners have integrated into their negotiations. Section IV examines the relationship between interests and legal norms in the practice of humanitarian negotiation. Section V offers concluding remarks.
The Philippines is one of the top countries in the world at risk of climate-related disasters. For populations subsisting at the poverty line in particular, but also the nation as a whole, daily lives and wellbeing are routinely challenged. The Philippines government takes disaster risk seriously and has devoted significant resources to build disaster capacity and reduce population exposure and vulnerability, nationally and locally. This paper explores the policy and institutional mechanisms for disaster risk reduction management and research which have been conducted in the Philippines related to disaster preparedness, management and resilience.
Building data responsibility into humanitarian action is the first UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs think brief to explore what constitutes the responsible use of data in humanitarian response. It was co written by the Signal Program, NYU Gov Lab and the Center for Innovation at Leiden University.
This paper identifies the critical issues humanitarians face as they strive to responsibly use data in operations. It also proposes an initial framework for data responsibility.
Globally, an estimated 300,000 children under the age of 18 participate in combat situations; those in armed groups in particular suffer prolonged exposure to psychological and physical abuse. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a rebel movement known for its widespread conscription of children; yet little is known about this process once the group moved beyond northern Uganda. In this paper, we describe the processes related to abduction and indoctrination of youth by the LRA in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo ( DRC).
This paper examines the role of mixed and multi-level methods datasets used to inform evaluations of transitional justice mechanisms. The Colombia reparation program for victims of war is used to illustrate how a convergent design involving multiple datasets can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a complex transitional justice mechanism. This was achieved through a unique combination of (1) macro-level analysis enabled by a global dataset of transitional justice mechanisms, in this case the reparations data gathered by the Transitional Justice Research Collaborative, (2) meso-level data gathered at the organizational level on the Unidad para las Victimas (Victims Unit), the organization in charge of implementing the reparations program and overseeing the domestic database of victims registered in the reparations program, and (3) micro-level population- based perception datasets on the Colombian reparations program collected in the Peacebuilding Data database. The methods used to define measures, access existing data, and assemble new datasets are discussed, as are some of the challenges faced by the inter-disciplinary team. The results illustrate how the use of global, domestic, and micro- level datasets together yields high quality data, with multiple perspectives permitting the use of innovative evaluation methods and the development of important findings and recommendations for transitional justice mechanisms.
Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines in November 2013, claiming more than 6,300 lives, displacing more than 4 million people, and disrupting the economy and livelihoods in some of the country’s poorest regions for years to come.
The Haiyan response has been held up as a largely effective humanitarian operation, and the transition from response to recovery phases was swift. However, evaluations have also found that the international operation failed to adequately join with national systems and overlooked civil society coordination opportunities.
With these coordination gaps and potential opportunities in mind, this discussion paper examines factors that affected the Philippine government’s ability to coordinate the Haiyan response and the international community’s ability to participate.
A limited body of research has examined satisfaction with work–life balance of expatriate workers who live abroad, residing outside the typical “family” or “life” domain. This study aims to demonstrate how and under which organizational circumstances job autonomy can increase work–life balance satisfaction of humanitarian aid expatriates. We hypothesize that especially in humanitarian work, trust in management can buffer potential negative effects of high autonomy. We test our hypothesis by means of ordinal logistic regression, using survey data collected among expatriates of the Operational Center Amsterdam of Médecins Sans Frontières (N = 142). Results reveal that high levels of autonomy are positively related with work–life balance satisfaction when trust in the management of the organization is high. When trust in management is low, the effect of high autonomy on work–life balance satisfaction is negative. This implies that trust in management indeed buffers negative effects of high autonomy among expatriate humanitarian aid workers.
At present, accepted methodologies for wind disaster damage assessments rely almost exclusively on responders having ground access to the affected area to document damage to housing structures. This approach can prove both time consuming and inefficient, and does not support the use of drones and satellites.
Geospatially-based damage assessments offer potential improvements to this process in terms of providing responding agencies with previously unavailable information about hard to reach, often non-permissive environments, at a scale and speed not possible through ground-based counts of damaged structures.
This guide provides the first standard method for conducting these types of damage assessments through the analysis of drone and satellite imagery. The “BAR Methodology” has been developed by the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at HHI to address this critical gap in this evolving area humanitarian practice.
This scoping study maps government, community-based organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations, private sector initiatives, and research and academic institutions working on disaster preparedness and response in the Philippines.
The study provides the basis for undertaking a series of research studies to designed to identify the leading contributing factors that determine effective disaster preparedness measures and the antecedents of high measures of community-based disaster resilience.
This poll is the fifth in a series of polls that will be conducted to provide reliable data and analysis on peace, security, justice and reconstruction in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project is a joint initiative of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with MONUSCO Civil Affairs. HHI is responsible for the data collection, and independent analysis, and reporting of the results, in collaboration with partners at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs, Université Catholique de Bukavu, and Université de Bunia.
As cities, especially coastal megacities, continue to grow often through rapid unplanned urbanization, populations are increasingly concentrated in climate change-affected hazard-prone spaces. How these populations interact with their environments will ultimately influence their vulnerability to climate-related disaster. Yet the interdependence between human and environmental systems, especially in the urban slum context, is under-researched and represents an important gap in our understanding. Using a socio-ecological system approach provides a holistic framework to understand vulnerability.
Burns are a common source of injuries worldwide, with a high burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries. Burns also account for 2%-8% of wilderness injuries. Although many are minor, the potential for serious morbidity and mortality exists, and standard treatments used in high-resource settings are not readily available in the backcountry. A literature review was performed to find evidence from low-resource settings that supports alternative or improvised therapies that may be adapted to care of burns in the wilderness. There is good evidence for use of oral rehydration to support volume status in burn patients. There is moderate evidence to support cold therapy as first aid and adjunct for pain control. Some evidence supports use of alternative dressings such as boiled potato peel, banana leaf, aloe vera, honey, sugar paste, and papaya when standard therapies are not available.
This briefing note aims to support the humanitarian sector’s efforts to apply a deeper level of analytical and strategic thinking to humanitarian negotiation. Toward this end, it provides an overview of how the rich body of literature focused on negotiations in other contexts—political, commercial, and legal settings, for example—can inform our understanding of humanitarian negotiation. In particular, this briefing note focuses on five analytical approaches to negotiation: (1) distributive, or power-based, negotiation; (2) integrative, or interest-based, negotiation; (3) basic human needs-based negotiation; (4) the behavioral approach to negotiation; and (5) culture as a factor in negotiation. By examining humanitarian negotiation through the lens of these five approaches, this briefing note seeks to shed light on the potential factors that drive humanitarian negotiations and to promote further scholarly analysis and professional reflection in this field.
It is with both admiration and humility that we look back upon this year and celebrate the vision, innovation and commitment of our faculty, staff, and collaborators in the pursuit of developing better strategies for assisting communities in crisis. 2014 - 15 signified a year of tremendous challenges in the humanitarian sector and tremendous accomplishments of our team.
2015 is an important milestone for HHI as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary. Building upon a nascent program in humanitarian crisis and human rights developed at Harvard University in 1999, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative was formally established in 2005 as a university-wide academic and research interfaculty initiative. By 2012, HHI would launch the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard as the first multi-disciplinary humanitarian education program in a major university. Looking back over this past decade and the important work that has laid the foundation for our programs today, HHI researchers continue to engage in the questions of greatest relevance to the sector: How can we better understand the needs of communities affected by war and natural disasters? What lessons have been learned from the past and how can we learn better from each other? What evidence do we have of how well programs have worked and can this information be applied to making crisis planning and management better going forward? What is the role of technology and what is society’s ethical obligation in the application of technology in crisis contexts? How can we, as academics, contribute to developing the next generation of leaders in this field? The programs described in the pages that follow attempt to address these questions and provide a window into the future of humanitarian innovation.
This poll is the fourth in a series of polls that will be conducted to provide reliable data and analysis on peace, security, justice and reconstruction in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project is a joint initiative of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with MONUSCO Civil Affairs. HHI is responsible for the data collection, and independent analysis, and reporting of the results, in collaboration with partners at the Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs, Université Catholique de Bukavu, and Université de Bunia.
In October 2014, the European Interagency Security Forum (EISF) launched a knowledge hub on communications technology and security risk management. The first publication of this project brought together 17 authors who analyzed in 11 articles how communications technology is changing the operational environment, the ways in which communications technology is creating new opportunities for humanitarian agencies to respond to emergencies, and the impact that new programs have on how we manage security.
The most recent contribution to the project comes from the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. In their article, al Achkar, Card and Raymond explore what constitutes ‘humanitarian communications space’, and the challenges to agreeing a common definition of ‘humanitarian communication’ and its protection under international law.
What challenges are inherent for humanitarian practitioners when operating in a context of transition from protracted conflict to peace? This paper examines this question, focusing on Colombia as a case study. As a result of the decades long conflict in Colombia, as well as natural disasters, a host of serious humanitarian concerns persist in the country. The ongoing peace process between the government and the largest anti-government armed group in the country—the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC—while certainly a welcome development, yields an environment not only of protracted conflict but also of protracted transition. This paper discusses four particular issue areas relevant to operating in this context: grappling with the politics of denialism; the gap between the political negotiation agenda and the humanitarian issues facing the country; interactions between humanitarian actors and national transitional justice measures; and building linkages between humanitarian organizations and actors operating in other fields, such as development and peacebuilding.