Humanitarian Networks and Partnership Week 2018

5-9 February 2018

Consultative Group Plenary Session

UN-CMCoord CG Report

Summary Report of UN-CMCoord Consultations Feb 2018 1.0.pdf


Agenda UN-CMCoord CG Plenary 1.0.pdf

UN-CMCoord Thematic Sessions

Combatants and Fighters in Civil-Military Coordination

6 February

Key outcomes:

  • Some 90 delegates participated in the Thematic Session on Combatants and Fighters in UN-CMCoord, with a sub-Saharan focus. The panel was composed of Carla Ruta (Geneva Call), Raphael Gorgeu (MSF Deputy Director of Operations), Christoph Vogel (Researcher specialized on conflict dynamics in Central Africa), Boly Diene (OiC MINUSMA Head of Regional Office in Kidal), Jochen Riegg (OCHA Access Officer Nigeria). The panel was chaired by Peter Scott-Bowden (Senior Advisor CCNH/WFP).
  • The discussions fostered a shared understanding of the need for humanitarian actors to engage with all parties to the conflict and to be (perceived as) principled. Dialogue with all parties to the conflict was deemed essential for humanitarian access, to build understanding and trust and to influence combatants / fighters’ behavior, promoting compliance with the rules of IHL. It was also emphasized that no group should be excluded from humanitarian engagement.
  • The discussions also highlighted current challenges, including the lack of a coherent and consistent approach amongst humanitarian actors, the shift from a principled humanitarian action towards a “pragmatic approach” under certain circumstances, presence of more robust PK missions that could contribute to blur the lines between humanitarian actors and combatants, the “oversecuring” of humanitarian actors (by one party to the conflict) could lead to a bunkerisation of humanitarian actors after they are seen as “one sided”, the criminalization of interaction with organizations labelled “terrorists” and the important staff turnover that impacts on the building of trust with armed actors.

Next steps to implementing solutions identified during the panel:

  • Trainings on dialogue with armed groups and building the relevant skillset must be developed.
  • Humanitarian actors must keep demonstrating coherence and consistence when engaging with parties to the conflict (be principled and “walk the talk”) and ensure regular interactions with all parties to enhance mutual understanding and trust.
  • Humanitarian HQs must adopt a firmer stand towards dialogue with armed groups and make available specific guidance and tools to support teams in the field.
  • Humanitarian actors should be able to dialogue with all groups, including those listed as terrorist, in accordance with IHL.
  • The UN-CMCoord role could better support a principled humanitarian engagement, the dialogue with all parties, essential to humanitarian access and protection of civilians through influencing parties’ behavior.

Those recommendations are consistent with the December 2017 OCHA HoO workshop that highlighted the need for guidance on engagement with non-state armed groups. The dialogue with all parties to influence the behavior of combatants / fighters is also regularly reiterated by the USG/ERC.

Safeguarding Humanitarian Action in “Danger Zones”

6 February

Key outcomes:

  • Ninety-one delegates participated in the Thematic Session on Safeguarding Humanitarian Action in “Danger Zones”, with a focus on the Middle East. The panel was composed of Ambassador Rosemary McCarney (Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva), Ondine Ripka (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF), Ruben Stewart (OCHA, Head of the Mosul Office and former CMCoord Officer Iraq), Cynthia Viveros-Cano (Head of the OCHA Access Unit in Syria, based in Damascus), Jesse Wolf (OCHA Civil-Military Coordination Advisor in the Regional Office for Syria, based in Amman), Tracy Cheasley (NATO Allied Command Transformation, IO/NGO Liaison), Major Kevin McDonnel (Coalition, Amman). The panel was chaired by Professor Marco Sassòli, Professor of International Law, University of Geneva.
  • The discussions focused on the deteriorating working environment for humanitarian actors, shrinking humanitarian space and violence against civilians. Panelists argued that those challenges were induced by the erosion of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the multiplicity of armed actors and chain of commands and inconsistent approaches of humanitarian actors vis-à-vis parties to the conflict. As exemplified in the case of Syria and Iraq, CMCoord Officers have an important role to play in addressing access and protection concerns with the military, and in ensuring a principled approach by humanitarian actors. It was noted that a dialogue about protection and IHL with the military, including Western military, is difficult, as identified focal points might not have an appropriate rank and subsequent internal leverage to solicit a response, let alone influence the conduct of hostilities.
  • In order to address the current challenges, panelists emphasized the promotion of IHL through consistent engagement with all parties, promotion of Protection of Civilians (PoC) as an indicator of military success (Iraq: not “take Mosul” but “protect the people of Mosul”), enhancement of accountability through advocacy including “naming and shaming” violators, trust building with all parties to the conflict, development of relevant mechanisms, such as the Humanitarian Notification Mechanism for Deconfliction (HNS4D), distinction of principled humanitarian action from political and development work.

Next steps to implementing solutions identified during the panel:

  • CMCoord Officers are “humanitarian ambassadors”. They have a lead role to play in addressing protection and IHL issues through the ongoing dialogue between humanitarians and parties to the conflict. CMCoord Officers and Focal Points are enablers of access and protection.
  • Foster IHL/Protection of Civilians (PoC) as a core issue in the military, from the Ministry of Defense down to the operational level, from the Commander down through the chains of command. PoC needs to be a measure for the success of a military mission.
  • Increased dialogue and engagement with all parties to the conflict by humanitarian actors to promote compliance with IHL and trust-building at all levels.
  • Develop and/or maintain humanitarian notification system for deconfliction mechanisms. Establish direct communication channels in case of emergencies.
  • Shape broader and more consistent advocacy at country level, through for example the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT).
  • Humanitarian actors must continue influencing military concepts and promote adherence to IHL and PoC.
  • Mechanisms promoting domestic and international accountability for IHL must be enhanced.

Inter-Network Day: Periphery of Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination

7 February

Key outcomes:

  • Mapping of current state of humanitarian action with a focus on protection, access, security and UN-CMCoord; Mapping of experts and main contributors in key areas of humanitarian action: security, UN-CMCoord, protection, access
  • Mapping of existing learning and training opportunities that contribute to building synergies among these different functions of humanitarian action
  • Identification of innovative ways to boost synergies in security, UN-CMCoord, protection and access through learning and training

Next step to implementing solutions:

  • Exploring/assessing innovative options identified by the groups of participants

Summary video message

Photos reporting on key findings of the groups of participants

Military Medical Teams and EMT Standards

8 February

Key outcomes:

  • The session on Military Medical Teams and Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Standards was attended by some 60 delegates.
  • The need for EMT core and technical standards to apply to all teams deploying into emergencies, whether civilian or military;
  • The necessity of capacity building and awareness-raising on the links between national and international coordination structures, for the two mechanisms to work together;
  • Necessities and options to work together between civilian and military teams.
  • As a bottom line, any team deploying into an emergency must be professional, well equipped, coordinated, autonomous so as not to be a burden for the affected country, show flexibility, creativity and innovation.

Next steps to implementing solutions identified during the panel:

It was concluded that the use of Emergency Medical Team Standards by military medical teams is essential and should apply to all. This was in line with the key points raised at the Asia Pacific Regional Consultative Group session on:

  • The importance for military EMTs to sign up to the global EMT mentorship and classification process and;
  • The need to coordinate and deconflict our activities and the operational tasking of military teams vs civilian teams.

The EMTCC concept as part of and under the leadership of the Ministry of Health worked well in the Philippines, Nepal, Vanuatu and Fiji, amongst others. Collaboration should be in dialogue, not in isolation. We need to train more together to mutually learn between civilian and military teams. The session should be implemented again in 2019.

Peacekeeping Pre-Deployment Training and Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination

Exhibition Area

Experience shows that the earlier we engage in pre-deployment training efforts the more of an impact we can have for smooth cooperation on the ground in peace operations. This led to the joint project between OCHA and the London School of Economics (LSE). With support by the LSE, OCHA is conducting a mapping of peacekeeping training centres and their pre-deployment training efforts, in close cooperation with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO).

The aim is to learn what exists in terms of training courses and curricula. The first step was to do a desk review. The LSE team collected information of 68 countries, 123 training centres and 315 training courses in one consolidated matrix. On this basis, OCHA and the LSE are having conversations with the top 12 Troop and Police Contributing Countries to UN peace operations, to learn in more details about the programmes offered to peacekeepers.

The final report at the end of March will offer a consolidated perspective and some recommendations on the way forward, with the objective for OCHA to be able to develop a meaningful strategy for engagement with peacekeeping training centres.

International Conference Center (CICG), Geneva