Conflict

Katherine Albutt, Jocelyn Kelly, Justin Kabanga, and Michael VanRooyen. 4/2017. “Stigmatisation and rejection of survivors of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.” Disasters, 41, 2, Pp. 211-227. Read PublicationAbstract
Studies report that between 6 per cent and 29 per cent of survivors of sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are rejected by their families and communities. This research project was designed to provide insights into survivors' experiences of stigmatisation and rejection. Surveys were conducted with 310 women as they sought psychosocial services in eastern DRC. In total, 44.3 per cent of women reported suffering rejection after sexual violence. The majority of women felt that their status in the household (58.0 per cent) and community (54.9 per cent) diminished after rape. The odds of rejection were greater among women reporting ongoing displacement, pregnancy owing to sexual violence, worsening family relations, and diminished community status. This work highlights the extremely high levels of loss associated with the war in eastern DRC, particularly among survivors of sexual violence. The rejection of a survivor of rape has concrete and devastating psychosocial consequences.
Brittany Card, Ziad Al Achkar, Isaac L. Baker, and Nathaniel A. Raymond. 9/2015. Satellite Imagery Interpretation Guide: Intentional Burning of Tukuls.Abstract

During armed conflict in East and Central Africa civilian dwellings are intentionally targeted and razed. These traditional civilian dwellings are known as tukuls which are primarily mud and thatch huts.

The intentional destruction of these dwellings, given their prevalence in these regions, is often one of the only available indicators of the intentional targeting of civilians observable in satellite imagery.

This field has lacked accepted methodologies for performing this type of analysis. This guide is the first to focus on tukuls because they are a uniquely valuable metric for both documenting attacks on civilians during armed conflicts and assessing potential mass displacement that can result from these incidents.  

This guide is the second in a series of Satellite Imagery Interpretation Guides. Future satellite imagery interpretation guides from the Signal Program may focus on other, related phenomena and structures present in similar operational contexts.

Sven Peterke. 10/2012. "Regulating 'Drugs Wars' and Other Gray Zone Conflicts: Formal and Functional Approaches," Humanitarian Action in Situations Other Than Way, Discussion Paper 2.Abstract

Academic debate on whether so-called “drug wars” can be classified as “armed conflicts” is more than just semantic. Indeed, the official designation of a situation as an armed conflict carries with it attendant rights and obligations applicable to states and non-state actors alike. The legal regime regulating armed conflicts is referred to as International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Some social scientists fail to understand that the debate on the applicability of IHL to “drug wars” is only marginally influenced by the broader discussions on “new wars” and “fourth generation warfare”. This article considers the principal international legal approaches to engaging with ostensibly new types of organized violence. It reviews historical progress with respect to the regulation of so-called “non-international armed conflicts” and considers the track record to date. The paper finds that the “formal approach”, based as it is on the cautious development of IHL´s existing legal basis, failed to offer a satisfying degree of legal certainty. The paper also notes how an alternative set of approaches is emerging - referred to here as “functional approaches”. The paper shows that this new generation of strategies could potentially complement the formal approach by offering alternative means of effectively regulating “drug wars” and other gray zone conflicts.

Advanced Training Program Humanitarian Action on (ATHA). 10/2016. Protecting Humanitarian Action: Key Challenges and Lessons from the Field.Abstract

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.

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 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.
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.
Brett D. Nelson, Michael VanRooyen, Maya Fehling, Margaret E. Tiernan, Zina Maan Jarrah, Saeed Albezreh, Narra Martineau, and Abdulmohsen Alhokair. 1/2015. Examining the needs of at-risk youth in the Middle East and North Africa: A multi-method landscape analysis and systematic literature review.Abstract
Opportunities for youth can be severely limited among many communities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that are disrupted by conflict or impoverishment. Recent political and economic factors, as well as a rapidly growing youth population, have greatly increased the vulnerability of at-risk youth in the MENA region. This HHI study utilized a multi-method approach -- including systematic reviews of the peer-reviewed and gray literatures, stakeholder analyses, and in-region discussions with youth and stakeholders -- to identify the current needs, activities, stakeholders, and opportunities related to at-risk youth in the MENA region. It is our hope that this initial report and its recommendations will be a starting point of discussion and collaboration as we develop a cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional Middle East Youth in Crisis Project based at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
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.
10/2016. “Declaration from Academic Humanitarian Training Centers on Syria”.Abstract
Given the current humanitarian crisis in Syria where patients, healthcare workers, and hospitals are under attack, we the undersigned, without presumption of authority or judgment, stand in solidarity with our healthcare colleagues and declare their right to international health neutrality. For many decades, we have provided global healthcare professionals with education and training in humanitarian assistance in sudden onset disasters and conflicts worldwide. In this training and education, each and every healthcare provider, both civilian and military, is made aware of the inherent protections provided to them under international humanitarian law (IHL), including the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as the principles and rules of IHL applicable to the conduct of hostilities, including the targeting of hospitals and medical facilities. These must be upheld. 
Jocelyn Kelly, Lindsay Branham, and Michele R. Decker. 5/2016. “Abducted children and youth in Lord’s Resistance Army in Northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): mechanisms of indoctrination and control.” Conflict and Health. Read PublicationAbstract
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).
Jocelyn Kelly, Katherine Albutt, Justin Kabanga, Kimberley Anderson, and Michael VanRooyen. 12/2017. “Rejection, acceptance and the spectrum between: understanding male attitudes and experiences towards conflict-related sexual violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.” BMC Women's Health, 17. Read PublicationAbstract
Female survivors of sexual violence in conflict experience not only physical and psychological sequelae from the event itself, but often many negative social outcomes, such as rejection and ostracisation from their families and community. Male relatives – whether husbands, fathers, brothers – play a key role in determining how the family and community respond to a survivor of sexual violence. Understanding these perspectives could help improve services for survivors of sexual violence, as well as their families and communities.
Ronak B. Patel and Leah Nosal. 1/2017. Defining the Resilient City. United Nations University Centre for Policy Research. Read PublicationAbstract
This background note is part of the United Nations University project on Resilience and the Fragile City and is meant to complement the paper ‘Conceptualizing City Fragility and Resilience’ (de Boer, Muggah, Patel 2016) which formally presents the fragile and resilient cities assessment framework. As resilience has become a more prominent and pervasive concept, this paper explores its application for urban environments in contexts of fragility (i.e. urban zones characterized by complex crises that often involve high levels of violence, extreme poverty, and disaster simultaneously) (see de Boer 2015). The paper reviews dozens of resilience frameworks and highlights a number of important findings: 1) the majority of existing resilience frameworks are useful for assessing resilience to natural disasters, yet few are effective in understanding resilience in contexts of fragility; and (2) many existing frameworks have yet to be empirically tested and largely rest on a Theory of Change. This means that very few indicators have been independently derived based on empirical data of what works. To fill these gaps, the paper concludes by proposing an approach to assessing resilience in contexts of urban fragility, which is then fully developed in the framework paper mentioned above.

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