Humanitarian Networks and Partnership Week 2018

5-9 February 2018

UN-CMCoord Thematic Sessions

For humanitarian actors to reach those in need and to mitigate security risks, the importance of interacting and dialoguing with parties to hostilities comes to the forefront. Traditionally, under International Humanitarian Law (IHL), “combatants” are referred to as persons who are authorized to use force and constitute legitimate military targets in times of armed conflict. Over the past years though, armed conflicts have become increasingly complex and have seen a multiplicity of new armed actors taking part in hostilities, sometimes blurring the lines between combatants and non-combatants.

How does the multiplication of new parties to the hostilities impact on humanitarian action today? Should humanitarian actors still interact and dialogue with all combatants and fighters? How are humanitarian principles operationalized in these interactions? How are humanitarian action and humanitarian actors perceived by the various parties? What roles could humanitarian civil-military coordination play in facilitating these interactions and dialogue to uphold humanitarian principles?

The session will examine the dialogue and interaction between humanitarian actors and combatants / fighters. It will look at providing answers to these questions and discuss ways to address the inherent challenges and dilemmas. The objectives are to:

  • Acknowledge the challenges faced by humanitarian workers in interacting with armed actors.
  • Discuss how the operationalization of humanitarian principles can enable humanitarian action.
  • Discuss the factors that can compromise the perception of neutrality and impartiality of humanitarian action.
  • Share good practices in interaction and dialogue between humanitarian actors and combatants/fighters.

Conflict is taking a massive toll on peoples’ lives around the globe. Millions of civilians are affected by conflict, displacing families from their homes, destroying livelihoods and entire communities. Humanitarian action seeks to save lives and alleviate suffering of all people in need, provided according to the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. Contemporary armed conflicts have seen civilians increasingly becoming victims of violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This includes humanitarian aid workers who risk their lives to care for people in need, working at the frontlines in today’s conflict zones.

What can we do to safeguard humanitarian action in “danger zones”? How can IHL effectively provide protection in situations of armed conflict to safeguard humanitarian work, ensuring unhampered provision of humanitarian aid to all people in need? What is the role of the military? What can states do to safeguard humanitarian work? What is the importance of principled humanitarian action in mitigating the risks faced by humanitarian workers?

The session will look at these questions, with the objective to:

  • Raise awareness of the importance of principled humanitarian action and its importance in mitigating risks faced by humanitarian workers and people in need in “danger zones”.
  • Discuss the challenges faced by humanitarian actors as a consequence of the erosion of IHL.
  • Discuss good practices and mechanisms to reinforce IHL to safeguard humanitarian aid in “danger zones” at the legal, policy, military, and humanitarian operational level.

Connecting humanitarian civil-military coordination (UN-CMCoord), protection, access and security of humanitarian action through learning and training.

The operational linkages between humanitarian civil-military coordination (UN-CMCoord), access, protection and security have become increasingly apparent with the most recent emergencies in the Central African Republic, Iraq or Yemen. While they are distinct functions, the notion of a conducive humanitarian operating environment brings them together as complementary and integral elements of a principled humanitarian response operation.

Although the functions may overlap at times, the skillsets for each of them are not interchangeable. For the past two years, the Preparedness and Response Effectiveness Programme (PREP) has brought together emergency managers to explore the connections between these functions along the humanitarian programme cycle. The PREP has greatly complemented dedicated efforts of the United Nations Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination Training Programme and other guidance development initiatives at the global level by focusing on a shared understanding of each other's roles and responsibilities as well as respective comparative advantages.

The session will:

● Explore the newest training developments to boost understanding of humanitarian action through access, protection, humanitarian civil-military coordination and security;

● Discuss possible avenues for greater interoperability among emergency responders on these four functions.

For some, they are a mandate: for all, they are a shared responsibility.

Consultative Group Plenary Session


8.30-9.00 AM

Informal Scene-setting – Meet and Greet

9.00-9.30 AM

- Opening by the Chair, Ambassador Toni Frisch

- Welcome Remarks

- Introduction by the Chair

9.30-10.30 AM

Conclusions and Observations from the Thematic Sessions

10.30-11.00 AM Coffee Break

11.00 AM-12.30 PM

Status of the Development of “Recommended Practices for Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination”

12.30-2.00 PM Lunch Break

2.00-3.00 PM

Regional Civil-Military Coordination Initiatives

3.00-3.30 PM

Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination in Multi-State Settings Across Natural Disasters and Conflicts

3.30-4.00 PM Coffee Break

4.00-5.00 PM

Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination in Multi-State Settings Across Natural Disasters and Conflicts (ctd)

5.00-5.15 PM Any Other Business

5.15-5.30 PM Conclusions and Closing

International Conference Center (CICG), Geneva