From 20th June through the 5th of July 2002, the Conflict Prevention Initiative of the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (CPI HPCR) in cooperation with the Center for Peace and Security Studies at the University of Gadjah Mada (CSPS) carried out a series of activities under the theme: “Building sustainable peace and fostering development in Papua”. This event was an effort to gather ideas and support from those representing Papua in the fields of peacebuilding and development. Using the Internet to discuss policies in the field of conflict prevention, this CPI-CSPS event also aimed at providing a platform for spreading information and strengthening networks between participants and decision makers at the national and international levels. The event started with a roundtable discussion at the University of Gadjah Mada on 20-22 June 2002, with 8 people from Papua representing the academic world, NGOs, religious organizations, customary institutions, women’s groups and youth. The main ideas that emerged during this discussion then became entry points for the e-conference, an online virtual discussion online in Indonesian. The e-conference took place between 24 June and 25 July 2002, with the participation of 89 people from various backgrounds. Simultaneously, an e-forum was carried out in English, with the participation of 32 people.
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.
Under Article 43 of the Hague Regulations, an occupying power must restore and maintain public order and civil life, including public welfare, in an occupied territory. This is not a result it has to achieve, but an aim it has to pursue with all available proportionate means not prohibited by International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and compatible with International Human Rights law. It may suspend the derogable provisions of the latter — but is not obliged to do so - if necessary for that purpose. Local legislation and institutions based upon such legislation must be respected by an occupying power and by any local authorities acting under the global control of the occupying power. New legislation or derogations from existing legislation are however admissible, for the period of the occupation, if essential for (1) the security of the occupying power and of its forces, (2) the implementation of IHL and of International Human Rights Law (as far as the local legislation is contrary to such international law), (3) the purpose of restoring and maintaining public order and civil life in the territory, (4) the purpose of enhancing civil life during long-lasting occupations, (5) or where explicitly so authorized under UN Security Council Resolutions. These obligations and limitations also apply to post-conflict reconstruction efforts, including constitutional reforms, economic and social policies. Article 43 also applies to peace operations when they are at all subject to IHL, i.e., UN authorized or mandated operations resulting from an armed conflict or consisting of military occupations meeting no armed resistance, independently of whether the conflict or operation is authorized by the Security Council and of the aim of the operation. IHL is however not applicable if and as long as the operation meets the consent of the state on the territory on which it is deployed. The applicability of IHL to UN run operations, including UN international civil administrations, is more controversial, even when they result from an armed conflict. When Article 43 is not applicable to such a peace operation, the latter is nevertheless confronted with problems similar to those of an occupying power, which deserve solutions similar to those adopted in State practice under Article 43. Limits to such application of Article 43 by analogy are the purpose of the peace operation defined by the UN Security Council, specific instructions by the Security Council and the fact that UN Human Rights standards, even if laid down in soft law instruments, are binding upon UN operations. Both occupying powers and those involved in peace operations must take into account, when engaged in the restoration or maintenance of public order and civil life according to Article 43 or in legislation permitted under that article, that they are not the sovereign. They should therefore introduce only as many changes as absolutely necessary under Article 43 as understood above and stay as close as possible to similar local standards and the local cultural, legal and economic traditions.
L’après-guerre froide a été marqué par une rupture dans la réglementation internationale régissant le recours à la force. Malgré le potentiel dévastateur des armes nucléaires, la Guerre froide avait la vertu de réguler le flux de violence. Elle constituait un déploiement tangible de forces antinomiques dont le déclin a conduit, en particulier, à la transformation de la façon dont la conflictualité est canalisée, organisée et argumentée. «Au commencement de la Guerre froide, ce régime a insisté sur l’inviolabilité des obligations du droit international, conformément au dicton pacta sunt servanda (‹les traités lient›). Les dix dernières années de ce conflit, il y a eu un soutien grandissant en faveur de la doctrine légale rebus sic stantibus (‹pour autant que les choses restent ainsi›) qui aurait résilié ces accords si les conditions au moment de la signature n’avaient plus été réunies.»
Undoubtedly, Afghanistan represents one of the most complex and difficult environments in which humanitarian agencies could operate. Working amidst ongoing military operations, continuous insecurity, and the massive displacement of populations, humanitarian agencies also have to cope with a rising demand for their services and a radically different political and social environment. Shifting from a policy that effectively isolated the former Taliban regime during the last six years, the international community is now gearing itself to actively support the political rehabilitation and social reconstruction of the country. This support, resulting in a new availability of funding and political backing, represents to many Afghans a much awaited engagement of the international community. Unfortunately, it has also generated a number of new challenges due to the sudden availability of political and economic resources emerging amid an operational infrastructure that cannot absorb, coordinate, and manage them properly.
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.
The rising importance of non-state armed groups is heightened by three post-Cold War phenomena: the increased fragmentation of states into smaller self-governing entities, the augmented privatization of warfare, and, by virtue of the expansion of global communication networks, the inflated accountability of states towards non-state actors. This context has influenced significantly the emergence of modern transnational and non-state armed groups (NSAGs) — i.e., groups that use force, flow across state boundaries, utilize global communication and transportation networks, seek international influence, and increasingly undertake military operations against dominant states. The key markers of how contemporary conflict between states and NSAGs varies from classical state-based warfare are to be found primarily in tactical and strategic differences. The increased (quantitative) participation of NSAGs in conflict presents in and of itself a strategic challenge for states. Since the events of September 11, 2001, and their aftermath, Al Qaeda and its associated groups, for example, have decentralized and diversified their activities significantly. Almost systematically, NSAGs have proven through their military aptitude that they can innovate faster than states. It, thus, became a strategic test for states to transform and adapt their intelligence and war-fighting capabilities to face these new contests and such mutation. From the tactical perspective, one of the most important developments is the increasingly unconventional and irregular means and methods used by transnational NSAGs. This is also one of the areas that conventional military forces have struggled to respond to. It is important in this changed context to differentiate between non-state armed groups, acknowledge their complexity and broadened goals, and register the implications of such development for states (which are themselves just as variegated as NSAGS). The ability of an NSAG such as Hezbollah to rely on local support, or at least tolerance, is another important modern-day advantage of armed groups that render conventional military tactics much less effective, if not obsolete in some cases. Such evolution underscores the fact that many an NSAG — whether as sophisticated as Hezbollah or more fluidly organized — is well suited to engaging in protracted conflicts in which no decisive military victory is required.
This policy brief reviews the legal questions associated with the participation of civilians in hostilities. This issue represents a critical challenge to the protection of civilians in current conflicts, particularly when hostilities are conducted in the midst of civilian populations and assets, and when non-state armed groups are engaged as central actors. This issue is also of particular relevance when the hostilities occur under occupation. While international law recognizes a basic right of selfdetermination for populations under occupation, it provides immunity against violence only to those not participating in hostilities. This apparent contradiction is at the core of the debate on the protection of civilians and raises a number of questions about the roles and rights of civilians in armed conflict, as well as the concept of participation in the war effort and the nature of hostilities. Is a member of a militant group necessarily a “combatant”? Can he or she be targeted according to the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL)? Is membership the key criterion, or are the actual acts of the individual the deciding factors of his or her status under the law? How can a civilian maintain or restore his or her protected status? Practitioners face these and related questions when developing policies for civilian protection in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). As with all briefs in this series, this paper focuses on providing practitioners with a clear understanding of the legal framework available for protecting Palestinian civilians living in the OPT, as well as the legal regime applicable to both the Israeli military and Palestinian militants when they engage in military operations. This framework is based on IHL (and, in a broader sense, on international human rights law). This note explores the spectrum of opinion (amongst both scholars and practitioners) on the question of the legal implications of civilian participation in hostilities, in particular the legality of targeting civilians who engage in hostilities. It highlights debates ongoing in the field of IHL without attempting to present “correct” answers, with an eye to enhancing practitioners’ understanding of the types of legal rationale used both to limit and allow targeting of civilians who engage in hostilities. Ultimately, the aim of this brief is to strengthen the capacity of professionals to utilize and negotiate with the law while developing strategies to enhance the protection of civilians.
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.
Ravaged by 21 years of war and destruction, Northern Uganda faces serious obstacles in achieving reconciliation and accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. While security in the region has improved since the migration of the Lord’s Resistance Army to the Congo, Ugandans continue to struggle with the aftereffects of an era of violence. This study relays Ugandans’ views on peace, mechanisms for justice, and reintegration, and consequently recommends that the Ugandan government and international community act in concert to develop a strategy for peace-building, justice, socioeconomic development, and poverty reduction in the North.
30 years after the end of the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia, citizens of the country continue to see themselves as victims of the regime and desire some form of reparations. Nonetheless, citizens wish that the country prioritize problems that Cambodians face in their everyday lives rather than concentrate on punishing crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. This study presents the views and experiences of Cambodians regarding exposure to violence, overall priorities, and the national criminal justice system. Additionally, the study reveals that citizens desire more knowledge of the regime, feel hatred toward the Khmer Rouge, and demand accountability. Furthermore, the study calls for changes in the structure and governance of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) so that Cambodians’ faith in their criminal justice system may be restored.
Recent incidents involving private security companies (PSCs) in Iraq have raised questions among governments and international agencies regarding the appropriate legal framework to regulate these organizations as well as to determine both company and employer liability under international humanitarian law (IHL). While the use of PSCs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has remained more limited than in Iraq, the growing presence of PSCs, especially at military checkpoints and crossings, has raised concerns among humanitarian practitioners. The purpose of this policy brief is to assess current uncertainties concerning the legal status of PSCs as they relate to the work of humanitarian agencies, the integrity of military chain of command, and the protection of civilian populations. A central issue lies in determining the extent to which PSC employees are to be considered agents of the Occupying Power and therefore no different, in legal terms, from any member of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), or whether they represent a new and separate legal entity whose behavior cannot be directly attributable to the Occupation Power under IHL. For example, what are the legal duties and responsibilities of PSC employees in terms of facilitating humanitarian workers’ access to the occupied population? In the event that PSC employees are involved in military engagements in occupied territory, or if they detain, injure, or kill civilians, what accountability structure applies to their actions? In interviews with humanitarian practitioners in both the UN and the NGO communities, HPCR researchers found that these questions are beginning to trouble those responsible for the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population.
This paper explores communication technology advances as an opportunity for humanitarian organizations to harness modern technology to communicate more effectively with communities affected by disasters and to allow members of those communities to communicate with each other and with the outside world. People in affected communities can recover faster if they can access and use information. A look at the use of communications technology during disasters in recent years shows that while communication advances have played a positive role, their full potential has not yet been realized.
The debates over the applicability and interpretation of the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) are vital to unity of effort as well as clarity of rules in coalition operations. This paper has addressed the key sources of uncertainty underlying how LOAC is and should be applied in coalition operations, focusing first on understanding which legal frameworks apply in particular context of armed conflict. After addressing key current debates over the qualification of conflicts, the paper explores a number of contemporary contexts in which this question of applicability is most salient: intervention in failed state situations and transnational armed conflicts. The paper suggests that resolving this first uncertainty is critical to unity of effort in this increasingly common realm of operations. It then suggests that a number of ongoing questions in the arena of LOAC applicability and interpretation exist where conflicts may be bifurcated and in determining the end of armed conflict. The paper explores the common practice of imposing policy‐based LOAC requirements in coalition situations, and how such practices are relevant to detention policies, command responsibility in situations where multi‐national forces are acting in concert, debates over direct participation of civilians in armed conflict, and the involvement of civilian support personnel in contemporary conflicts.