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.
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 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.
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.
Nowhere to Turn is a report documenting the scope and long-term impact of rape and other sexual violence experienced by women who fled attacks on their villages in Darfur and are now refugees in neighboring Chad. The report is based on a scientific study, conducted in partnership with Physicians for Human Rights, of women's accounts of rape and other crimes against humanity that they have experienced in Darfur, as well as rape and deprivations of basic needs in refugee camps in Chad.
After years of armed conflict, instability, and human rights violations, in 2006 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held its first elections since independence. Despite this success, eastern DRC grapples with major challenges in achieving security, social reconstruction, and transitional justice. This study presents the needs and priorities of the Congolese population in light of prevailing social and political instability, and recommends that the Congolese government and international community take steps to monitor and implement peace negotiations, security, and good governance as the country moves forward.
This report uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Results from this report show the sexual violence perpetrated by armed actors in the DRC has features that indicate rape is being used as a weapon of war. The violence in DRC embodies a new kind of war emerging in the 21st century - one that occurs in villages more than battlefields and affects more civilians than armed combatants.
Liberia has made progress in peacebuilding and reconstruction in the aftermath of a 14-year long civil war, but the country continues to face challenges in overcoming the results of a legacy of violence. This study, undertaken in November and December 2010, provides insight into Liberians’ current priorities for peacebuilding, their perceptions of post-conflict security, and existing dispute and dispute resolution mechanisms. The findings suggest that while Liberians are generally positive about the country’s prospects for peace and security, the fears and inequalities perpetuated by years of civil strife continue to reverberate throughout the country. This study provides recommendations to address the existing problems of gaping socioeconomic disparities, limited access to information, a weakened security sector, and the diminished quality of current dispute resolution systems. It also supports inter-ethnic national dialogue on truth, reconciliation, and the underlying causes of the war.
A prominent issue in contemporary international law and policy involves civilians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (“OPT”)1 who wish to seek reparation for damage allegedly sustained as a result of Israel’s activities vis-à-vis the OPT, whether in the course of belligerent occupation or armed conflict. This policy brief provides humanitarian practitioners with a basic understanding of the legal framework applicable to that issue. Given the sensitive nature of the topic it examines, this policy brief aims to equip readers with the conceptual tools necessary to understand the various arguments from different viewpoints. The main question to be addressed is whether in the above-outlined context a victim of a violation of international law has a right to compensation. This paper does not take any position as to whether Israel has, or has not, violated international law in any of the instances discussed. Nor does the paper address whether individual persons acting on behalf of the State of Israel may be held criminally liable for their acts. Also outside the scope of this paper is the situation of Israeli civilians having suffered damage as a result of the situation.