Humanitarian organizations operate in increasingly hostile environments. Although authoritative statistics are scarce, anecdotal evidence suggests that aid workers face life-threatening risks that are exacerbated by the growing number of humanitarian organizations operating in the field with varying mandates, without common professional security standards and with limited success with inter-agency security coordination. The ability of humanitarian organizations to fulfill their mandates in the future, will be depend in part on their individual success in improving internal security management practices and in finding ways to coordinate their efforts on building common security standards and security coordination across agencies. To meet this challenge, humanitarian organizations must implement improved security management methods and finds ways to coordinate their security operations and planning. Despite broad acceptance of the need to develop better security management and coordination, many humanitarian organizations remain ambivalent about coordinating their security activities and few have instituted robust measures for improving their own security management practices. Further, efforts to improve security management practices are hampered by a critical lack of basic empirical knowledge about the field security environment. In discussions about humanitarian staff safety and security, the least common denominator continues to be cumulative anecdotal evidence provided by the many security personnel working for humanitarian organizations in the field. This policy brief reviews the literature on humanitarian organization security management, highlighting common misconceptions about the field security environment, reviews the main structural and procedural issues impeding more effective security management, and illustrates why current initiatives to improve security management practices will remain only partial successes if they do not include a serious effort to replace anecdotal reporting on the field security environment with systematic collection and analysis of field security data. It argues that staff security requires a common professional approach based on sound security expertise adapted to meet the operational needs of humanitarian organizations. A model is developed for creating a network of security professionals responsible for guiding the design and implementation of common security standards and security information sharing protocol.
Since the late 1980s, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a spiritualist rebel group with no clear political agenda, has abducted tens of thousands of children and adults to serve as porters and soldiers. In the early 1990s, children who escaped from the LRA or were captured by Ugandan soldiers were often paraded in the streets in the hope that someone would identify them. This treatment prompted a group of parents of abducted children to establish the Gulu Support the Children Organization (GUSCO), a reception center in Gulu, in 1994. In December 2005, the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations launched The Database Project to better document abduction and help improve the capacity of 8 reception centers in the northern districts of Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Apac, and Lira to collect and analyze information about former LRA abductees.
This paper examines the relationship between the legal framework of international humanitarian law (IHL) and civil society actors operating in conflict situations. Attention is paid to assessing the manner in which the latter can play a role in strengthening the humanitarian dimension of the former. Brief introductory comments are warranted so as to situate the debate, in which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in a conflict zone are adopted as the primary unit of analysis. IHL is the field of public international law which regulates the conduct of hostilities, namely restricting the means and methods of warfare available to parties to the conflict, and laying out protections afforded civilians and those no longer taking part in hostilities (hors de combat). State-centric in its development, the central tenets of IHL are found in the Hague Regulations of 1907, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the two Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977. It is the right of sovereign states to decide which treaty-based international legal obligations they adopt regarding the legal regulation of the conduct of armed conflicts, however a number of legal provisions of IHL have attained the status of customary international law, and are thus binding on all parties to the conflict. This raises questions in regards to the status of non-state actors under international humanitarian law. The legal position of such actors, which for the purpose of this paper will focus on international organizations and non-governmental organizations, warrants close examination.
A vital component of humanitarian action is the coordination among all actors involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Coordination within this field allows for the most efficient, cost effective, and successful operations possible. Groups seeking access to beneficiary populations often share the same objectives in regards to addressing human need and allaying suffering, but wide variance in such principle elements as organizational structure, technical and/or geographic expertise, mission, mandate, and political interest may hinder or prevent natural coordination on the field. This brief focuses on the dynamics of humanitarian coordination in the context of humanitarian assistance, and the main elements of coordination in the field. For the purposes of this paper, coordination is defined as a “systematic utilization of policy instruments to deliver humanitarian assistance in a cohesive and effective manner.” A leading scholar in the field identifies three basic types of coordination: coordination by command, coordination through consensus and coordination by default; and the distinction between the three is important in discerning both the benefits and challenges offered by different approaches to coordination. While United Nations agencies played a central role in the systemization and institutionalization of the idea of coordination, effective coordination requires multi-sectoral and multifaceted perspectives, as well as a dual approach in which the importance of both operational and strategic coordination are recognized. The principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality are central to the provision of humanitarian assistance, and as such, warrant consideration in coordination strategies and policies. Other basic principles and elements of humanitarian coordination include strengthening the capacity of local actors, transparency and accountability, and mutual commitment and cooperation between the different actors. There are a variety of existing mechanisms designed to enhance and facilitate coordination between organizations providing assistance in a given context. These mechanisms range in function from enhancing coordination within and among groups to identifying gaps in responses as well as addressing important concerns relating to funding. While there are many challenges to implementation of coordination strategies, as well as concerns regarding the potential for increased bureaucracy in an already complex system, the benefits to coordination can be tremendous. Not only are humanitarian operations improved through the development and implementation of coordination strategies and mechanisms, but, more critically, the beneficiary population also gains from better coordinated activities.
Public information and outreach have emerged as one of the fundamental activities of transitional justice mechanisms. Their objective is to raise public awareness, knowledge and participation among affected communities. Despite this increased focus, understanding of the role, impact and effectiveness of various outreach strategies remains limited, as is understanding of communities’ knowledge, perceptions and attitudes about transitional justice mechanisms, including their expectations. The study discussed in this article was designed to evaluate International Criminal Court (ICC) outreach programs in the Central African Republic.
Decades of Political Instability, state fragility, mismanagement, and a series of armed conflicts have led the Central African Republic (CAR) to a state of widespread violence and poverty. This study provides a better understanding of the scope and magnitude of violence in CAR and its consequences, as well as a snapshot of what the citizens of CAR believe is the best way to restore peace. It also examines the issue of justice and accountability for the serious crimes that were committed. This report provides a detailed analysis of results on a wide range of topics related to the population’s priorities and needs, exposure to violence, security, community cohesion and engagement, access to information, conflict resolution, reintegration of former combatants, transitional justice, and reparations for victims.
In 2010, the Humanitarian Studies Course incorporated applied technologies into the coursework for the second consecutive year. The goal of this evaluation report is to reflect upon and determine the next steps for the Applied Technology Learning Module and to better understand its impact on participant learning during the 2010 Humanitarian Studies Course. This evaluation concludes that improvements in 1) didactics and preparation 2) integration of crowdsourcing and GIS technology 3) satellite communications and 4) volunteer capacity resulted in a successful educational experience for future humanitarian responders.
On July 26, 2010, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, was convicted of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions for events that took place three decades earlier under the Khmer Rouge regime. Following this important milestone for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the present study was implemented to (1) monitor public awareness and knowledge of the ECCC’s work, as well as of outreach and victim participation initiatives organized by the tribunal and local non-governmental organizations, (2) assess attitudes about justice and the desire for reparations for past crimes, and (3) recommend ways in which the ECCC, civil society, and the international community can continue to engage Cambodians in the work of the ECCC.
The trial of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch (Case 001), at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was the first in the history of international criminal justice in which surviving victims of alleged crimes could participate directly in international criminal proceedings as civil parties. In this study, we interviewed all 75 civil parties residing in Cambodia, including those who had ultimately been denied civil party status at the conclusion of the trial in Case 001. The objective was to learn about their experiences in participating in the ECCC proceedings.
This report presents the results of a mixed-methods study conducted in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to assess the population’s perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes about security and justice. The study included a survey of 1,000 randomly selected adult residents, to provide results that are representative of the population of the city of Abidjan. The specific objectives of this study were to:
- Assess the overall exposure to violence among the population in Abidjan.
- Document attitudes and opinions about transitional justice mechanisms.
- Examine how the population gathers information about the International Criminal Court (ICC), what factors influence Ivorians’ knowledge of the Court, and what correlation exists between information sources and perceptions.
Detailed results provided in the report outline the challenges of rebuilding peace and achieving justice after a decade of conflict, and just two years after a dramatic post-election crisis. The report reveals a population that has little or no trust in its government and in each other, concerned with its economic well-being, and somewhat divided about holding accountable the perpetrators of serious crimes during the postelection violence.
This report presents the results of a mixed-methods study conducted in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between November and December 2013, to assess the population’s perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes about peace, security and justice. The study included a survey of 5,166 randomly selected adult residents, to provide results that are representative of the adult population of territories and major urban areas in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, and the district of Ituri.
The scale and cadence of crises that demand international humanitarian response is increasing. The cumulative frequency and severity of climate change on large populations, rapid and unsustainable urbanization, decreasing biodiversity, and the impending realities of resource scarcities and the armed conflicts they might catalyze are only some of the challenges that loom ahead. It is ironic that while human civilization today possesses the most advanced technologies, global prosperity, and abundance, we face the greatest absolute number of people lacking access to clean water, food, shelter, and basic healthcare.
Treatment of non-communicable diseases such as cancer in refugees is neglected in low-income and middle-income countries, but is of increasing importance because the number of refugees is growing. The UNHCR, through exceptional care committees (ECCs), has developed standard operating procedures to address expensive medical treatment for refugees in host countries, to decide on eligibility and amount of payment. We present data from funding applications for cancer treatments for refugees in Jordan between 2010 and 2012, and in Syria between 2009 and 2011. Cancer in refugees causes a substantial burden on the health systems of the host countries. Recommendations to improve prevention and treatment include improvement of health systems through standard operating procedures and innovative financing schemes, balance of primary and emergency care with expensive referral care, development of electronic cancer registries, and securement of sustainable funding sources. Analysis of cancer care in low-income refugee settings, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is needed to inform future responses.