Humanitarian Strategies

Julia Brooks. 7/2015. Humanitarians Under Attack: Tensions, Disparities, and Legal Gaps in Protection.Abstract

Humanitarian professionals working in complex environments face increasing threats and attacks that endanger their lives, violate international humanitarian law, and jeopardize the consistent and effective delivery of emergency relief to populations in need. In light of these issues, this paper explores challenges and opportunities related to the predominant organizational approaches to the protection of aid workers in complex and insecure environments, and highlights often overlooked disparities in the risks faced by different groups of humanitarian professionals based on their status as national or international staff, gender, and organizational affiliation. It argues that insufficient attention has thus far been paid to the significance of these disparities and their implications for operational security and effectiveness. Furthermore, it highlights significant fragmentation and gaps in the protection of aid workers under international law and the culture of impunity prevailing for perpetrators of such attacks. It then examines the recent trends in humanitarian security management — namely, acceptance, protection, and deterrence. Finally, it offers reflections for the humanitarian community on improving the state of knowledge, practice and law with regard to the protection of humanitarian professionals.

Rob Grace. 6/2015. Humanitarian Negotiation: Key Challenges and Lessons Learned in an Emerging Field.Abstract
Negotiations are crucial for the overall success of humanitarian operations, yet these endeavors are inherently challenging. Given both the importance of humanitarian negotiations and the gravity of the difficulties faced, what is the capacity of the humanitarian sector to carry forward lessons learned from past negotiations? This paper addresses this question. Specifically, this paper examines the field of humanitarian negotiation as a unique professional domain that has encountered common challenges across different geographic contexts. The overall issue at hand is that, although negotiators in different settings have encountered similar dilemmas and obstacles, the field of humanitarian negotiation has been slow to develop a body of research analyzing common issues faced, produce policy guidance that grapples in an in depth manner with the practical difficulties of humanitarian negotiations, and build professional networks both within individual organizations and across the sector so that negotiators can share best practices with one another.
Rob Grace and Julia Brooks. 9/2015. Humanitarian Action and the Politics of Transition: The Context of Colombia.Abstract
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.
Rob Grace, Katherine Akkaya, Amna-Noor Al-Gallas, Adelaida Baghdasaryan, Melissa Freeman, Eitan Paul, Thomas Pols, and Brittany Reid. 12/2015. Understanding Humanitarian Negotiation: Five Analytical Approaches.Abstract
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. 
Federica du Pasquier. 11/2016. Gender Diversity Dynamics in Humanitarian Negotiations: The International Committee of the Red Cross as a Case Study on the Frontlines of Armed Conflicts.Abstract
Negotiations for access are crucial for the success of humanitarian operations. They also occur in contexts of armed conflict and violence that typically entrench gender identities. Building on the vast research showing that gender affects the conduct and outcome of negotiations, this paper explores gender dynamics in a humanitarian setting. After outlining its methodology and surveying the relevant literature, this paper sketches out the ways 21 practitioners at the International Committee of the Red Cross see gender dynamics affecting their work in the field. These interviews support previous findings on men and women’s diverging conceptions of gender’s impact and relevance, as well as on the cross-cultural consistency of gender dynamics in war. In a context where, unlike in many corporate settings, women’s work as humanitarian actors is congruent with prescriptive gender stereotypes, this study shows that they can be perceived as more legitimate because they are thought of as selfless caregivers and potential mothers. This paper ultimately argues that, rather than studying the impact of gender in isolation, further research should explore how the intersectionality of different diversity dimensions—such as gender, race/ethnicity, age, and religion—affect humanitarian negotiations. In terms of policy implications, this study makes the case for actively fostering diversity, including in terms of gender, within negotiating teams to ensure they are more flexible in adapting to different scenarios and more creative in dealing with complex problems.
Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Bridget Marchesi, Doug Johnson, Peter J. Dixon, and Kathryn Sikkink. 3/2016. “Evaluating Transitional Justice: The Role of Multi-Level Mixed Methods Datasets and the Colombia Reparation Program for War Victims.” Transitional Justice Review, 1, 4. Read PublicationAbstract
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.
Rob Grace. 9/2017. “The Humanitarian as Negotiator: Developing Capacity Across the Sector”.Abstract

This paper examines the dynamics at play in ongoing efforts to cultivate negotiation capacity among professionals working in the humanitarian sector. Based on extensive interviews conducted with humanitarian practitioners, this paper addresses three overarching issues. The first is humanitarian professionals' current understanding of humanitarian negotiation as a concept. On this issue, the paper examines the difficulties of defining humanitarian negotiation and the competing answers to the question of how to conceptually delineate humanitarian negotiation as an activity. The second is the types of negotiation capacity—cognitive, emotional, social, and cultural—that humanitarian practitioners deem to be relevant to their work. The third is the difficulties likely to be faced as capacity building efforts in this field continue to unfold. Overall, this paper aims to paint a portrait of the state of humanitarian negotiation capacity building, as well as what will be needed moving forward.

For more information click this link

Emmanuel Tronc and Anaïde Nahikian. 12/2018. Fragile Future: The human cost of conflict in Afghanistan. Read PublicationAbstract
This context analysis examines the humanitarian, political, societal, and economic dimensions that make the protracted conflict in Afghanistan intractable and precarious for civilian populations. The report is based on field visits to numerous regions in Afghanistan in July 2018 — which included interviews and consultations with a variety of actors, including political stakeholders, humanitarian agencies, and populations affected by conflict — as well as a review of recent and relevant literature. The purpose of this analysis is to (1) provide a current assessment of the conflict, drawing from field interviews and an in- depth assemblage of various reports and resources, (2) examine the interconnected and interdependent interests fueling the conflict, and (3) suggest that if these dynamics persist in the way they have for decades, recent elections and peace talks will represent yet another setback for Afghan communities and a peaceful future for the country.
Emmanuel Tronc, Rob Grace, and Anaïde Nahikian. 11/2018. Humanitarian Access Obstruction in Somalia: Externally Imposed and Self-Inflicted Dimensions . Read PublicationAbstract

Access obstruction in conflict settings has emerged as a critical operational and policy concern across the humanitarian sector, but there remains a dearth of analysis regarding the ways in which humanitarian organizations perpetuate self-inflicted access obstacles. Drawing on qualitative interviews conducted with local and international actors negotiating frontline humanitarian access in Somalia, this paper will examine the ways in which this context elucidates this phenomenon. Toward this end, this paper examines two dimensions of humanitarian access obstruction in this context. The first set of dynamics consists of externally imposed obstacles that stem from governmental actors, Al-Shabaab, access "gatekeepers" motivated by financial gain, and the insecure nature of the environment. The second set of dynamics consists of self-inflicted dimensions of access obstruction that emanate from decisions that international humanitarian organizations (IHOs) have made at the strategic or policy level. These issues include the physical "bunkerization" of IHOs, programmatic shortcomings, the discounting of local humanitarian actors' agency, and the ways that IHOs exhibit programmatic partiality in response to donors' interests and counterterrorism legislation. Through examining these issues, this paper highlights fact that, although the discourse on humanitarian access obstruction tends to emphasize difficulties arising from externally imposed obstacles, it is also important to interrogate the value and methods of humanitarian programming itself.

Patrick Vinck, Phuong Pham, Kenedy Bungu, Juliet Bedford, and Eric Nilles. 3/2019. “Institutional trust and misinformation in the response to the 2018–19 Ebola outbreak in North Kivu, DR Congo: a population-based survey.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 19, 5, Pp. 529-536. Read PublicationAbstract
The current outbreak of Ebola in eastern DR Congo, beginning in 2018, emerged in a complex and violent political and security environment. Community-level prevention and outbreak control measures appear to be dependent on public trust in relevant authorities and information, but little scholarship has explored these issues. We aimed to investigate the role of trust and misinformation on individual preventive behaviours during an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD).
Phuong Pham, Vandana Sharma, Rebecca Hémono, Jessica Jean-Francois, and Jennifer Scott. 5/2018. DEPP Evaluation Summative Phase Report Annexes.Abstract

This report provides the summative results from the three-year external impact evaluation of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) conducted by a team at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI). The DEPP was a £40 million programme funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) that aimed to strengthen skills and capacity and improve the quality and speed of humanitarian response in countries that are at risk of natural disasters or emergencies.

This document provides the annexes of the report. 

Phuong Pham, Vandana Sharma, Rebecca Hémono, Jessica Jean-Francois, and Jennifer Scott. 5/2018. DEPP Evaluation Summative Phase Report.Abstract
This report provides the summative results from the three-year external impact evaluation of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) conducted by a team at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI). The DEPP was a £40 million programme funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) that aimed to strengthen skills and capacity and improve the quality and speed of humanitarian response in countries that are at risk of natural disasters or emergencies.
Emmanuel Tronc, Rob Grace, and Anaïde Nahikian. 6/2019. “Realities and Myths of the “Triple Nexus”: Local Perspectives on Peacebuilding, Development, and Humanitarian Action in Mali”.Abstract

 

Despite decades of development programming for a country once upheld as a “model democracy” in Africa, Mali remains a country destabilized by extreme poverty; escalating violence and instability; and diminishing prospects for Malians’ futures in education, livelihoods, and stability. Even in light of an ongoing international presence and intervention in the country, and millions of dollars raised and spent each year on humanitarian programming, the persistent degradation of governance, livelihoods, and security continues.

What drives this state of affairs? How have international and regional actors contributed to sustaining a stagnating state at the expense of civilian populations and in the interest of preventing transnational Sahelian turmoil from expanding into the Maghreb and beyond to
European borders? What are the expectations and aspirations of local communities as they navigate the interconnected influences of extremist groups, government actors, and international military forces?

This paper examines these questions and offers reflections on various dynamics of the international response and the perceptions of local communities in this context. In particular, this analysis assesses the viability of the “triple nexus” concept, which aims—in protracted
and complex crises such as Mali—to forge an operational and policy alignment between international peacebuilding, development, and humanitarian efforts. The paper is based on a desk analysis of relevant literature, as well as over 130 interviews and consultations
undertaken with a variety of stakeholders, including government and non-state armed group representatives, civil society members, activists, journalists, humanitarians, analysts, diplomats, entrepreneurs, beneficiaries, displaced people, and students. The interviews were conducted in Mali, particularly in Bamako and in Central Mali, as well as abroad, between December 2018 and March 2019. The paper proceeds in four parts. Part I examines the key elements driving instability in this context. Part II focuses on international responses. Part III discusses the implications for the “triple nexus.” Part IV offers concluding remarks.

 

Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi, Kevin Coughlin, Muslih Irwani, Waad Ibrahim Khalil, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2020. “English Version: "Never Forget: Views on Peace and Justice Within Conflict-Affected Communities in Northern Iraq"”.Abstract

This survey offers a snapshot of the perceptions and attitudes about peace and justice within communities affected by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS). It is based on 5,213 interviews conducted in 2019 among a representative sample of internally displaced persons in northern Iraq and residents of the city of Mosul and surrounding areas.The research documents a severe lack of trust in official institutions, particularly in the Government of Iraq itself, stemming in large part from the belief that these institutions do not act in the best interest of the population. Few respondents had confidence in the Government of Iraq’s ability to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic State fairly and accurately and to provide justice to survivors of the conflict.Despite the mistrust, respondents favor local justice and truth-seeking mechanisms. They view these efforts as necessary to build a durable peace, alongside measures to address the root causes of the rise of IS and longstanding divisions between the people of Iraq. However, rather than the challenge being diversity itself, the challenge is the Government of Iraq’s ability to promote and facilitate reconciliation and unity.Without an accountable government that is perceived to be legitimate and is trusted by all Iraqis, calls for justice and accountability may go unanswered, and the country risks slipping back into another conflict.

The research was conducted by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with Mosul University and the Iraq-based Public Policy Institute. It was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which played no role in the design, analysis or publication of the research.

Abdulrazzaq Al-Saiedi, Kevin Coughlin, Muslih Irwani, Waad Ibrahim Khalil, Phuong Pham, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2020. “الترجمة العربية (Arabic Version): "Never Forget: Views on Peace and Justice Within Conflict-Affected Communities in Northern Iraq"”.Abstract

This survey offers a snapshot of the perceptions and attitudes about peace and justice within communities affected by the conflict with the Islamic State (IS). It is based on 5,213 interviews conducted in 2019 among a representative sample of internally displaced persons in northern Iraq and residents of the city of Mosul and surrounding areas.The research documents a severe lack of trust in official institutions, particularly in the Government of Iraq itself, stemming in large part from the belief that these institutions do not act in the best interest of the population. Few respondents had confidence in the Government of Iraq’s ability to investigate the crimes committed by the Islamic State fairly and accurately and to provide justice to survivors of the conflict.Despite the mistrust, respondents favor local justice and truth-seeking mechanisms. They view these efforts as necessary to build a durable peace, alongside measures to address the root causes of the rise of IS and longstanding divisions between the people of Iraq. However, rather than the challenge being diversity itself, the challenge is the Government of Iraq’s ability to promote and facilitate reconciliation and unity.Without an accountable government that is perceived to be legitimate and is trusted by all Iraqis, calls for justice and accountability may go unanswered, and the country risks slipping back into another conflict.

The research was conducted by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with Mosul University and the Iraq-based Public Policy Institute. It was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, which played no role in the design, analysis or publication of the research.

Pages