Conflict

Claude Bruderlein and Pierre Gassmann. 5/2006. Managing Security Risks in Hazardous Missions: The Challenges of Securing United Nations Access to Vulnerable Groups.Abstract

Over the last decade, the United Nations (“U.N.”) has taken a central role in the international community’s response to the consequences of disasters and armed conflicts. Increasingly, international strategies to cope with instability and armed conflicts rely on the deployment of the staff of U.N. agencies in the midst of armed hostilities to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance to threatened populations. Furthermore, reconstruction and development activities traditionally undertaken in peaceful environments have also become an integral part of stabilization efforts in situations that are far from secure.

Marco Sassòli. 6/2004. Legitimate Targets of Attacks Under International Humanitarian Law.Abstract

According to an uncontroversial principle of customary international humanitarian law (IHL), parties to an armed conflict must distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives. In order to spare civilians and the civilian population from hostilities and their effects, it is essential to define who and what may be attacked. The first rule regarding attacks (by acts of violence2 ) is that the intended target must be a military objective. Once a military objective is the target, under additional rules, which are not discussed here, the attack may nevertheless become illegal if excessive collateral damage affecting civilians or civilian objects must be expected. Furthermore, even when attacking a lawful target, precautionary measures to spare civilians have to be taken. While the main aim of the law is to protect persons, it is appropriate to discuss first what objects may be attacked. This permits to clarify the criteria, which make targets legitimate. In addition, attacks on objects involve the greatest danger for persons who are beyond any doubt civilians. 

HPCR. 5/2004. The Legality of House Demolitions Under IHL. Read PublicationAbstract

 

This note examines the legal aspects, under international humanitarian law (IHL), of Israel's practice of demolitions of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). It outlines the basis, history, and practice of house demolitions, sets forth the relevant IHL provisions that impact house demolitions, and reviews the positions of the different parties involved on this issue.

 

Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Nehal Bhuta, and Nida Alahmad. 5/2004. Iraqi Voices: Attitudes Toward Transitional Justice and Social Reconstruction.Abstract

In attempt to move beyond a past marked by conflict, terror, and violence, Iraq has many hurdles to overcome in achieving social reconstruction and transitional justice. This study reflects the views of Iraqis regarding past human rights abuses, justice and accountability, truth-seeking and remembrance, amnesty, reparations, and reconciliation. Using this data, the study makes recommendations on how Iraq may address the needs and wants of its citizens for fairness, accountability, and justice, while simultaneously prioritizing a peaceful future.

HPCR. 1/2002. Internal Displacement in Afghanistan: New Challenges.Abstract

The ongoing military action in Afghanistan is deepening what was already a severe humanitarian crisis. Further displacement of civilians will have a profound impact upon the ability of the country and its people to recover. The movement of civilian populations in search of security, as a result of conflict, or food, as a result of drought, has characterized the long conflict in Afghanistan. The continuing flight of civilians from urban areas, in the face of aerial attacks, compounds a humanitarian situation that was already grave, due to a long and devastating drought in many parts of the country. Over the coming winter, more than a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) will require emergency assistance simply to survive. Apart from the immediate impact on the livelihoods of the displaced and their hosts, forced movement affects social relations and traditions within affected communities. It is important to take stock of these changes, and related shifts in community- or tribal-level politics that might occur during displacement, in efforts to support the recovery of vulnerable communities. This policy brief aims to provide a concise point of reference for those planning responses to the complex range of issues resulting from displacement. It includes a number of active links to the most relevant and reliable information sources. It concludes with a range of operational recommendations for international organizations, governments and NGOs working on this issue.

6/2018. “An Innovative Global Diplomacy Public Health Student Program – Lessons from the Field in a Post-Conflict Medellin, Colombia”.Abstract

For over fifty years, Colombia has been embroiled in conflict, displacing nearly seven million people, second only to Syria for the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world. Most are displaced to urban environments into dense informal settlements with inadequate water, sanitation, shelter and power infrastructure. The city of Medellín, has become home to over 200,000 IDPs in informal agglomerations. Medellín’s transformation to a city of progress and innovation through the promotion of “social urbanism” is an example of how collaboration between city institutions and government sectors can address issues of poverty, violence, equality, engagement, and reintegration of displaced populations in Colombia.

The Post-Conflict Colombia Public Health Project is a collaborative academic exchange program aimed at bringing together public health students from the United States and Colombia for the purpose of understanding between the people of both countries. The project aims to educate students while also providing direct service and fostering long-term cross-cultural relationships and sustainable projects. Seminars, skill building workshops, cultural experiences, and community engagement are used to build professional competencies and inform policy recommendations for future projects. Despite the limited research on the educational impact of short-term global emersion programs, small scale evaluations point to an increase in learners’ cross-cultural adaptability. The believed benefit to students’ professional and personal development must be balanced with ethical considerations including preparedness of students, health and safety risks, cultural sensitivity, and issues of sustainability. In order to address these concerns, programs should be developed collaboratively through bi-directional participatory relationships, incorporating both education and direct service components, and promoting local capacity building and long-term sustainability.

Our course pairs 16 carefully selected graduate-level public health and medical students from Harvard and Universidad de Antioquia, who will serve as both student and citizen ambassadors, to come together and share about their culture, values, and experiences through the lens of diplomacy and dialogue to make a meaningful impact in the people and country of Colombia. The course examines the social development model of Medellín and its impact on advances in peace, social equity, and health. Beyond the theoretical concepts, students will learn to apply them to the Granizal community in order to create practical solutions that are sustainable, scalable, innovative, and measurable.

As other disciplines move away from curricula limited to rote learning and fact-based content, public health and policy education will also benefit from incorporating experiential and competency-based learning with an emphasis on skill building in leadership, management, policy-making, and research.5 The Institute of Medicine’s 2003 report, Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century, recommends eight content areas as essential to graduate level public health education programs: informatics, genomics, communication, cultural competence, community-based participatory research, global health, policy and law, and public health ethics.6 The report further acknowledges the importance of developing international relationships between academic institutions, community organizations, and health agencies for collaboration in interdisciplinary and community-based research, learning, and service. Health disparities, issues of social justice, and public health threats from infectious disease are less and less confined by political and geographic boundaries. The future generation of leaders in public health and policy must be able to bridge nations and cultures through diplomacy and be equipped to develop innovative strategies and partnerships across professional disciplines and on a global scale.

While several public health approaches have been documented in the literature, we describe a model for a multi-institutional and cross-cultural collaboration based on The Post-Conflict Colombia Public Health Project, a three-week intensive course developed in partnership between the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, the Open Hands Initiative, and the University of Antioquia. While this model is a public health course focusing on Colombia, the concepts and educational strategies can be applied across academic disciplines and to other countries and communities.

 

International Committee Red of the Cross. 6/2004. Improving Compliance with International Humanitarian Law.Abstract

Over the years, states, supported by other actors, have devoted considerable effort to devising and implementing in peacetime preventive measures aimed at ensuring better respect for international humanitarian law (IHL). Dissemination of IHL generally, within academic circles and among armed forces and armed groups has been reinforced, and IHL has been increasingly incorporated into military manuals and doctrine. Domestic legislation and regulations have been progressively adopted or adapted, and the necessary structures put in place to give effect to the rules contained in the relevant IHL treaties. In many states specific advisory bodies, such as National IHL Committees, have been established and international humanitarian law is increasingly being considered as part of the political agenda of governments. At the same time, by encouraging the national prosecution of war crimes and, more significantly, by the establishment of international bodies such as the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court, the international community has concentrated its efforts since the early 1990s on the repression of serious violations of international humanitarian law. Despite these advancements in preventive and repressive measures, however, insufficient respect for the rules of international humanitarian law during armed conflict remains an abiding problem. It is the result of both the lack of political will and practical ability of parties to an armed conflict — both States and armed groups — to comply with their legal obligations. While efforts to improve both the prevention and repression of IHL violations are fundamental and must continue, the question of how better compliance with international humanitarian law can be ensured during armed conflicts thus deserves greater attention. In 2003, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in cooperation with other institutions and organizations, organized a series of regional expert seminars to examine this issue. Regional seminars were held in Cairo, Pretoria, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City, and Bruges (Belgium). Participants included government experts, parliamentarians, academics, members of regional bodies or non-governmental organizations, and representatives of National Societies of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. 

Daniel Toole. 2/2001. Humanitarian Negotiation: Observations from Recent Experience.Abstract

During the last twenty years, the United Nations, the Red Cross Movement and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) have had to increasingly utilise negotiation to ensure access and the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need. Current trends of increasing international and intrastate conflict are likely to continue and thus negotiated access will remain an important issue. After a number of years of experience with such negotiation it may now be time to take stock of the lessons learned. This review has been based on field experience of humanitarian negotiations and on a rapid review of relevant literature. It highlights areas where common principles and issues have become clear in the negotiation process and, as a result, where a common approach and practice have evolved. It then examines areas where constraints have been encountered requiring reflection and analysis and areas where improvements may be needed. The paper finally outlines initial steps to strengthen capacity for humanitarian negotiation in the future. 

Allan G. Hill, Cari Jo Clark, Ismail Lubbad, and Claude Bruderlein. 10/2006. “Hope and Despair over Health in Gaza.” BMJ, 333.Abstract

The Israeli re-invasion of Gaza this July has redrawn the world’s attention to the dire straits of the population living in the Gaza Strip. There, within an area the size of the Isle of Wight, 1.4 million people live without free access to the outside world. Contrary to international hopes, the Israeli decision to withdraw from Gaza in September 2005 has led to increasingly tight control over the movement of goods and people. The destruction of the Gaza power station in addition to the damage to bridges, roads, and other infrastructure can only worsen the plight of Gazans in the coming months.

Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Marieke Wierda, Eric Stover, and Adrian di Giovanni. 7/2005. Forgotten Voices: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Peace and Justice in Northern Uganda.Abstract

After two decades of armed conflict waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda, Ugandans and the international community remain divided on how to effectively pursue and obtain peace and justice. This study presents Ugandans’ exposures to violence, the needs and concerns of displaced peoples, and opinions on specific transitional justice mechanisms as the country moves forward. Additionally, the study proposes that controversies over interventions in the region may be resolved by the local and international adoption of a comprehensive strategy that aims to achieve both peace and justice.

Macartan Humphreys. 2/2003. Economics and Violent Conflict.Abstract

This essay reviews recent research on the relationships between economies and violent conflict. The type of economic policies that governments choose plays a significant role in determining the likelihood of conflict. Policies that induce conflict may result from deliberate decisions to weaken state institutions so that leaders can more easily enrich themselves. Sometimes however conflict may result from attempts to increase economic efficiency. There is for example ample anecdotal evidence about how the World Bank and IMF’s structural adjustment programs of the 1980’s and 1990’s spawned civil conflicts. This review however has found no systematic support linking structural adjustment to war. It begins by considering the economic factors that make some societies susceptible to conflict. One of the main factors is poverty, though this is mostly a feature in civil wars, not international ones. Economic growth is also associated with lower levels of conflict. Thus, policies that aim to promote growth in developing countries are, in effect, also likely to act as agents for conflict prevention. However, although wealth reduces the chances of conflict, the rise in global economic prosperity throughout the 20th Century has corresponded with an increase rather than a fall in the number of civil wars. This is likely due to the rise in other conflict-inducing factors, such as population levels, and the fact that global growth has been unbalanced. Another feature of economies that is often related to levels of conflict is trade. There is strong evidence that countries that trade with each other are less likely to fight each other, though no comparable work has yet been Also considered is whether violent conflict is caused by undertaken on the effects of internal trade. economic inequality. Statistical research has not found evidence for such a relationship, though that may be because researchers are not working with the right data. While qualitative studies suggest that inequality between regions or groups – known as “horizontal inequality” – is what matters for violent conflict, econometric research has used a measure of “overall inequality” – that is, inequality between individuals irrespective of their group membership The two types of inequality need not be in any way correlated. Also covered in this essay is research that has been undertaken on the ways in which economies function once violent conflicts have broken out, including attempts to quantify the economic costs of conflicts. Some conflicts reduce the levels of investment within zones where fighting takes place; others spur technological innovation and growth. Different studies have tried to estimate aggregate costs and benefits of conflict, using a model of economic production that uses information on levels and rates of change of physical capital, population, human capital, and “total factor productivity.” No study however has yet measured the aggregate costs that arise from all these different channels. And while recent work has focused much on looting activities of groups there has not been much work studying the effects those activities have on economic producers. The ways in which economies are structured is also found to matter. Countries that depend on the sale of primary commodities, for example, are more likely to have wars. In particular the role of natural resources, such as oil and diamonds, has been widely discussed but there is a lack of consensus on the nature of their relationship to conflict. Researchers at the World Bank suggest that natural resources lead to wars because greedy citizens take up arms to capture them. But there are alternative explanations that are at least as plausible. These explanations suggest alternative policy responses on the part of governments and international organizations. Researchers have also studied the economic behavior of different groups during conflicts. Many have focused on ways rebel groups finance themselves. Some rebels do it by gaining control of natural resources, others are supported financially in part by emigrant populations (although this link is still poorly understood) and from third party sources such as foreign governments. Agricultural production is often as important for rebel financing as natural resources, although it is largely ignored by policy makers. The requirements for financing and the form of financing depend however on the relations between rebel groups and civilian populations. When rebels have popular support, they may benefit from donations in cash or in kind. Otherwise, they may rely on extortion. Unfortunately however, research is relatively sparse on the different ways rebels relate to civilian populations even though such variation is likely to have implications for financing, for forms of peace settlements and for war duration. Some political scientists have tried to distinguish between different types of natural resources in order to explore the mechanisms that link resources to conflict. Their research distinguishes between different commodities based on dimensions such as the extent to which production is centralized, the geographic distances between zones of production and the seat of government, and the extent to which trade in the resource is legal. It has also been argued that the institutional capacity of governments alters relationships between natural resources and conflict. These different lines of research have been developed through the examination of case study evidence, but their conclusions have not been tested using statistical techniques. 

Vincenzo Bollettino. 10/2006. Designing Security.Abstract

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 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 find 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.

Derek Jinks. 6/2004. The Temporal Scope of Application of International Humanitarian Law in Contemporary Conflicts.Abstract

When does the application of international humanitarian law properly begin and end in modern conflicts? Classical international law distinguished three types of armed conflict: (1) war; (2) civil war; and (3) armed hostilities short of war. The laws of war were applicable in time of war--from the declaration of war until the formal reestablishment of peace (for example, by the signing of a peace treaty). The laws of war were not applicable in civil wars--which were considered internal matters--unless a state formally recognized the insurgency as a belligerent. And, of course, the laws of war were not applicable as a formal matter in hostilities short of war. Prior to the drafting of the Geneva Conventions in 1949, the applicability of the “law of war” was, therefore, delimited by formal acts of state such as a formal declaration of war or a formal recognition of belligerency. The Geneva Conventions substantially revised this formalistic, de jure approach--making contemporary international humanitarian law applicable during armed hostilities that de facto constitute “armed conflicts.” In both international and non-international armed conflicts, the Geneva Conventions, in general, govern the conduct of hostilities for the duration of the “armed conflict.” This background note briefly outlines the regime established in the Geneva Conventions and summarizes several ambiguities in these rules. Because the scope of application regimes differ sharply between international and non-international armed conflict, these two types of conflict are analyzed separately. 

Claude Bruderlein. 2006. Towards a Common Security Framework: Securing Access and Managing Risks in Hazardous Missions.Abstract

International agencies are facing increasing levels of threats against their staff and activities in many of their operations. Since the end of the Cold War, these agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental alike, have been called to work more intensely in conflict areas.1 These areas have become singularly more dangerous in recent years, exposing staff to greater risks. The threats of attack, as well as recurring levels of criminal violence, are now part of the daily life of international agencies’ workers in many of these situations, hindering their work and limiting their access to people in need. Although significant resources have been invested recently in building the security capabilities of international agencies, the escalation in security threats has not been matched with the development of corresponding institutional strategies to mitigate operational risks and reduce the exposure of international agencies. Despite serious flaws in existing security systems, international agencies have been inclined to expand their security capacity at a technical level rather than reviewing the relevance of their security strategies. As a response to the attacks against United Nations (UN) headquarters in Baghdad and other field missions, the United Nations is planning to expand significantly the capacity of the UN security system by creating a Directorate of Security, which will centralize all UN security systems, and by adding a number of staff and layers of technical responsibilities to an already bureaucratic and over-procedural security apparatus. While most operational managers agree that the security environment of UN agencies has evolved considerably over the recent years, this significant expansion in security capabilities is being considered without a clear and proper understanding of the types or sources of threats the UN will face in the coming decades.2 There are few discussions on global and local threats against UN operations or the role that agencies can play to mitigate exposure to risks. Similarly, other agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), are increasingly tying their security response to conservative interpretations of their mission — relying significantly, in the process, on the neutral character of their activities and the acceptance of the communities. Many organizations, however, fail to acknowledge the changing perceptions of international assistance in some areas of the world and the changing profile of the security threats that endanger not only their operators but the recipient communities as well. For these agencies, the current security developments represent a major challenge 

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