|New Approaches to New Realities (University of Wisconsin, 1996, 508 p.)|
|Theme TWO: Political, Security, Protection, Civil and Human Rights Aspects|
This paper was prepared by Eva Jensen of InterWorks. In addition to the resources listed in the paper, the following people provided significant contributions:
Jacques Willemse - is with Dutch Church Aid in the Netherlands.
Barry D. Rigby - is with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ankara, Turkey.
Hizkias Assefa - is the Director of the Nairobi Peace Initiative, Nairobi, Kenya.
This paper is a synthesis of the efforts of all of those cited above and as such does not express the viewpoint of any single resource, contributor or organization.
The end of the Cold War created hopes that major conflicts and wars throughout the world would be resolved, that displaced populations would be able to return to their places of origin, and that people would have the opportunity to focus on nation-building, reconstruction, peace and development. In fact, the post-Cold War era has been marked by increased civil conflict and war. Several proxy wars previously fueled by the U.S. and U.S.S.R. now rage on as internal conflicts. Many of todays wars are resource wars of survival within the context of limited social, economic and environmental resources or political opportunities. The human suffering caused by civil war is often aggravated by the conditions of poverty and underdevelopment, as well as fragile food production and distribution systems.
In the context of war, the provision of humanitarian assistance to emergency settlements will be conditioned by the stance of the government and contending forces in the conflict. Humanitarian assistance is likely to be used as a tool in war, to establish power, gain the loyalty of local people, or weaken the opposition. Belligerents to a conflict generally focus on military victory and are not likely to embrace international humanitarian principles. The challenge for humanitarian assistance practitioners is to design relief and assistance programs based on an analysis of existing social, economic, political and military factors, implementing them in their proper context in order to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need and reduce the negative impact of military strategies. Humanitarian practitioners may have to rely on peacekeeping personnel in order to provide assistance. In addition, they are increasingly forced to consider the role of humanitarian organizations and their relationship with outside and multilateral military forces which are more frequently intervening in complex emergencies and providing humanitarian assistance in hostile areas.
The complexity of many of todays emergency settlement situations requires a re-examination of the principles which guide operations of relief and humanitarian assistance. The following principles are proposed to guide contemporary operations. An examination and discussion of best practices follows. Numerous ethical dilemmas and issues are considered.
1. In the advocacy of the three established principles of humanitarian assistance - humanity, neutrality, and impartiality - humanity comes first.
In the past, the principle of neutrality was widely recognized as essential to the ability of agencies and organizations to assist and protect persons on all sides of a conflict. Today, it is increasingly recognized that there are situations in which completely neutral humanitarian space does not exist. Relief efforts become involved in insurgency and counter-insurgency warfare, the struggle for state power and warlordism (Omaar and de Waal, 1994; Winter, 1995).
In situations of war, aid is a political and economic resource and the provision of aid can be an extremely political act. Food and other types of relief are used by contending armies and donor governments as political and military tools. If this highly political and economic context of humanitarian operations is disregarded, there is a high risk that relief work will be manipulated by one or more of the parties to the conflict or that it will intensify or prolong the conflict (Macrae and Zwi, 1994; Smith, 1993). The primary allegiance of humanitarian assistance providers ought to be to the victims in a conflict. That is, the humanitarian objective must come first in situations where adherence to strict neutrality or impartiality impedes the overall humanitarian goal of the operation.
2. Humanitarian assistance should be provided in solidarity with the victims of complex emergencies and it should be associated with efforts to foster human rights protection and conflict resolution in hostile or unsafe emergency situations.
Solidarity requires commitment to pursuing an agenda based on human rights and the pursuit of justice. Assistance must be provided in consultation with the people with whom solidarity is expressed. Such assistance will involve shared risk and suffering with the people as well as accountability to the people. Solidarity may involve moving beyond the provision of relief and assistance to human rights advocacy and lobbying (Omaar and de Waal, 1994). Providers may risk expulsion or become targets of belligerents if they publicize human rights violations and engage in efforts to restrain such abuses. The provision of assistance without regard for human rights violations, however, may mean people are being housed and fed, and then tortured or killed in the next wave of violence. The most effective means of fostering human rights protection and conflict resolution is to be frank with combatants regarding violations and to be in solidarity with the victimized population.
3. No matter how desperately humanitarian assistance is needed, there should not be an automatic presumption of response to an emergency situation in an unsafe environment. Following a thorough analysis and discussion with the victims, the best decision may be not to become involved.
Providers of humanitarian assistance should conduct a thorough analysis of the situation, consult with the victims, if possible, and calculate both the risks and the likely consequences of involvement. If the circumstances are dangerous, they should seek to hire staff who are willing to work under hazardous circumstances, provide training and support that will strengthen their operation and ensure arrangements for staff security are in place.
In a context of conflict, the population is already at risk. The critical question is whether aid can be provided without further endangering the target population. Will humanitarian assistance relieve suffering and benefit the victims of complex emergencies? If analysis indicates that assistance will be manipulated by belligerents to their own advantage, that it will further the political or military goals of the combatants or a donor, that it will prolong the conflict, or that it will be used for purposes counter-productive to humanitarian assistance goals and strategies, it may be necessary to withhold needed assistance. The needs of the victims and their opinions should guide such a decision.
4. The emergency settlement population in hostile or unsafe situations should be involved as participants in program planning and implementation.
The most effective way to mitigate the vulnerability of relief operations to political manipulation or abuse is to devolve responsibility and accountability to the civilians themselves. Civilians will protect relief and development programs that they own. They can exert influence over militias, particularly those that seek the loyalty of the local population. Local participation and the devolution of management also empowers communities in the struggle against the forces competing for power. When humanitarian assistance programs are managed by local communities, they are often more effective, the scope of external intervention is reduced, and long-term development interests may be supported. Local involvement and accountability can also help demonstrate transparent motives on the part of assistance providers, reducing suspicion by the population as well as parties to the conflict (Smith, 1993).
5. Under no circumstances should humanitarian assistance be delivered to or distributed among armed combatants, militias or bandits.
Humanitarian assistance providers must seek to establish aid delivery systems independent of government and insurgent forces, and be forthright about their aim to relieve the suffering of victims in complex emergencies. Humanitarian relief and assistance is often a tool which contending forces will use to expand or consolidate territory or advance their political and military position. When humanitarian providers can ensure aid delivery independent of military strategies, they are not likely to be manipulated by belligerents or serve the military and political interests of the contending forces.
The distinction between combatants and non-combatants is not always clear. In many conflicts, civilians serve as part-time combatants. In other situations, people are conscripted into military or resistance movements against their will or they are forced by economic destitution to join an armed force. Again, the local population is in the best position to ensure aid delivery is targeted to civilians in need, rather than armed forces. Getting to know the habits and traditions as well as formal and informal power structures of the people and establishing good relations with local people can be the best means of monitoring the delivery and distribution of assistance and preventing the diversion of relief supplies.
Some diversions will be unavoidable. The assistance provider should alert all factions that the assistance pipeline will be shut off for those areas or settlements where continued relief diversions by hostile factions occur. When humanitarian assistance has become a resource that fuels conflict between contending parties, aid should be withdrawn. In addition, when providers have lost the trust of the people whom they are serving and their role is no longer appreciated, it is time to shut down operations.
The majority of todays refugees and displaced persons are being uprooted by armed conflict. The victims include refugees, externally and internally displaced people, and people trapped behind siege lines or geographical barriers (UNHCR, 1993). Those in need of assistance include civilians, and captured, wounded or otherwise incapacitated soldiers. According to The International Court of Justice, the purpose of humanitarian assistance is to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found - to protect life and health and ensure respect for the human being - giving priority to the most urgent cases of distress (Minear, 1988). The provision of humanitarian assistance, however, is increasingly recognized as a political act. Complex emergencies are not simply the unfortunate consequence of political and military strategies; they are often the objective of such strategies.
Civilian populations are the target of contending forces whose leaders seek to establish military and political control and power. The delivery of aid will have a political impact and will affect the balance of power in a conflict. Therefore, humanitarian providers are required to engage in much more sophisticated social, political and economic analyses in order to evaluate the potential consequences of their assistance or failure to assist (Keen and Wilson, 1994; Macrae and Zwi, 1994; Slim, 1995; Smith, 1993).
When governments and insurgents fail to provide or allow relief operations, humanitarian assistance providers are forced to consider humanitarian intervention without the approval of the governing powers. The need to respond to human suffering is increasingly recognized as justification for such intervention. Major UN operations in Cambodia, Mozambique, Iraq, Somalia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have demonstrated the willingness of the international community to intervene on behalf of suffering populations. Claims of national sovereignty are no longer adequate to prevent such intervention. Major violence against civilian populations is no longer considered exclusively a matter of domestic jurisdiction. Human life takes precedence over international legal constructs and sovereignty devoid of humane values increasingly appears illegitimate (Weiss and Minear, 1993, p. 61; see also Chopra and Weiss, 1992).
When the conditions for involvement exist, providers must assess whether or not they can indeed serve humanitarian objectives through their involvement and, if so, how. Humanitarian assistance providers must conduct an assessment of their own resources and abilities to respond effectively. Do we know enough? Are we best suited? Can we make a thorough analysis? Do we have access to resources: sufficient funding, capable staff, trusted local partners? Normally this process will include an assessment mission with clear terms of reference. (For more details see the Topic 3 Emergency Settlement paper Needs and Resources Assessment.)
The decision to intervene on behalf of a civilian population without consent of the governing authorities is not a neutral position. How best to provide humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies is actively debated.
Minear and Weiss (1993) call for nonpartisanship, humanitarian action that does not seek to promote a particular political or religious agenda, solidify the loyalty of a particular ethnic group or geographical area, dampen disaffection, or preempt insurrection (p. 23). Smith (1993) argues for operations of evenhandedness, as defined by Peter Davies, the former executive director of InterAction - to provide assistance in such a manner that none of the parties to conflict is able to accrue undue military advantage (p. 100). Smith argues that evenhandedness can help reduce the exploitation of humanitarian assistance and help aid providers engage in dialogue with warring parties. She argues, however, that it requires effective coordination among humanitarian assistance providers with a view to a division of labor; the analysis of links between the emergency, the conflict and the prevailing economic situation; an analysis of military strategies and possible connections between those strategies and provision of external assistance; and specialized training in how to operate in armed conflict.
While acknowledging that humanitarian assistance can be manipulated to serve military or political interests, Smith (1993) and Keen and Wilson (1994) argue that emergency assistance can be used to reduce conflict and stabilize underlying economic disruptions. In order to provide effective relief, humanitarian providers need to understand strategies employed for political and military control and economic profit. In addition, they must recognize and understand strategies pursued for survival and efforts either to maintain livelihoods or to develop new ones. Rather than attempting to establish positions of neutrality, organizations involved in international relief need to think about how they are responding to the dynamics of conflict, about which strategies they should be facilitating, and which they should be discouraging (Keen and Wilson, 1994, pp. 209-210).
The limitations and even dangers of striving for evenhandedness are that sustained relief can prolong conflict, or unbiased actions can risk maintaining conditions that led to the original conflict (Smith, 1993, p. 100; see also Omaar and de Waal, 1994; Keen and Wilson, 1994; Macrae and Zwi, 1994; Minear and Weiss, 1993). When humanitarian assistance is used as a tool against civilians, the principles of nonpartisanship and solidarity conflict with one another. In such situations external assistance may have to be withdrawn; parties to the conflict may have to be pressured to seek a negotiated settlement; the international community may choose to use force and assume responsibility for the management and implementation of relief; or where one party to the conflict is clearly identified as the primary aggressor and violator of human rights, aid agencies may choose sides and favor the disadvantaged party (Smith, 1993).
For example, in the 1980s, humanitarian assistance was provided in Ethiopia without acknowledging the Ethiopian governments famine-creating policies. Government human rights abuses, forced resettlement and the diversion of food aid was not criticized. The Ethiopian government of Mengistu was able to manipulate aid for its strategic and propaganda purposes. Few of those familiar with Ethiopia avowed neutrality and inferred that there was nothing to choose between the two sides. One senior Oxfam staff member privately commented: I have always regarded the [Tigrayan People Liberation Fronts] struggle as a war against famine (Omaar and de Waal, 1994, p. 12).
The decision to become involved in complex emergencies is one that is wrought with ambiguities and uncertainty. After identifying if and how a provider will become involved in a humanitarian relief effort in a complex emergency, the provider must recognize its primary humanitarian responsibility to the emergency population and be held accountable to the beneficiaries of assistance. This requires a transparency of motives and involvement of the beneficiaries in program design, implementation and evaluation. A critical factor in this approach is to identify the differences, struggles and power structures within beneficiary populations. While respect for local leadership is important, all segments of the population must be included in the provision of humanitarian assistance. (See also the topic 20 Emergency Settlement paper Supporting Emergency Settlement Leadership and Participation.)
In complex emergencies, agencies and organizations providing humanitarian assistance and their personnel may experience vulnerability and powerlessness. Providing relief is difficult and may be life-threatening. Staff may be harassed or attacked. Personnel may be held hostage, injured or killed. The stress and vulnerability is likely to affect their emotional and physical health.
While providers must be willing to assume some level of vulnerability and insecurity when working in conflict areas, agencies and organizations, at national and international levels, must also take responsibility for providing support and implementing measures that will increase the security of staff in dangerous situations. Field personnel should receive specialized training for posts in settings of armed conflict. They should be fully informed and know as much as possible about the situation in which they will work and the circumstances under which they will work. Inexperienced staff should work in partnership with more experienced personnel.
Several security-related precautions are essential for the viability of assistance and security of staff, including the establishment of:
· reliable and clear communications capacities within an operational area and with regional and international headquarters
· thorough and regular briefings about the situation and operations, preferably in coordination with other providers
· prominent identification of agency staff, vehicles and relief supplies with recognizable humanitarian logos
In some situations personal protection devices, such as bullet proof clothing or armored vehicles may be necessary. In other cases, armed guards or weapons may be required. However, these measures are only to be used for protection and not offensively.
Donors that ask agency personnel to put themselves in harms way on behalf of the donor must also take responsibility for the costs and arrangements of providing security.
Relief workers will have to care for themselves emotionally and learn to rely upon others for support and assistance. They must have some knowledge of stress, an ability to recognize it in themselves and others, and some skills for management of stress and frustration. The special demands of humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies require agencies and organizations to consider developing personnel policies that provide adequate professional and emotional support, sabbaticals and remuneration.
Perhaps the best support available to humanitarian assistance personnel in complex emergencies is to be found among the local population with whom mutual trust has been established. Jacques Willemse, Dutch Church Aid, provides the following example:
A year before the battle for Mogadishu started in earnest, we saw the war coming. Having a mixed-clan staff of some 50 Somalis in the Northeast, this development was quite worrisome. We, therefore, sat down with the traditional elders and negotiated a deal. We would continue the water emergency program in their region, stretching from Central to the very Northeast of Somalia, as long as security and logistics would permit. They, in turn, swore to treat our Somali staff as guests according to the ancient Koranic tradition. Now, nearly four years later, we deplore the loss of one staff member. He died of malaria!
Our compound was attacked and the local people defended it, on order of the elders. Early in the war they sent an expedition to Mogadishu to rescue women and children related to our Somali colleagues from the carnage and brought 37 people back to safety. They lost a number of people and trucks in both events. When offered compensation and thanks, the elders responded, What for? We have a deal.
Later, when hundreds of thousands of their clan members fled back to the region and the food situation became precarious, it was their turn to call upon our deal. And we fulfilled our obligations.
What could be perceived as a romantic series of events, Willemse identifies as a carefully discussed, prepared and negotiated agreement based on mutual respect and trust resulting from loyalty to the communities in the face of pressure from the Barre regime. Established working relationships with the local population are the best foundation for humanitarian assistance programs.
Field personnel operating in complex emergencies are required to have skills far beyond those of a logistics officer who coordinates the delivery and provision of relief and humanitarian assistance. Often described as a generalist, the humanitarian assistance professional is required to have multiple skills; in complex emergencies, the political nature of the disaster requires additional skills.
Recognizing that humanitarian relief and assistance is a political act, that aid is a political and economic resource, and that aid will affect the balance of power in a conflict, the humanitarian worker must be able to collect information and conduct sophisticated political analysis about the local patterns of conflict and alliance. Humanitarian assistance providers must be transparent in their motives to relieve suffering, able to conduct a thorough analysis of a given situation before and during an operation, and able to work cooperatively with the population whom they are serving.
Slim (1995) has identified several additional skills required by todays humanitarian field personnel. The ability to negotiate with parties to civil conflict in order to obtain access to people is essential. Skills related to conflict analysis, management and resolution may be required. An ability to communicate information about humanitarian assistance, as well as to counter propaganda that escalates instability and conflict, may be essential in order to make humanitarian assistance accessible. Practitioners will need to be able to work in urban and rural areas, recognizing the different circumstances, resources, vulnerabilities, survival strategies, and communication networks that operate in each area. Human rights monitoring and reporting is a critical aspect of humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies; it requires a sophisticated understanding of political, ethnic, gender and class relations as well as the ability to document and collect such information.
Increasingly, humanitarian assistance personnel are required to select, manage and monitor armed guards for protection. Such responsibility requires critical personnel management skills as well as the ability to evaluate the political implications of making such decisions. Similarly, the ability to evaluate, negotiate and manage relations with military personnel who become involved in humanitarian assistance efforts, as well as evaluate the political and practical implications of developing such relationships is critical to maintaining primary organizational commitment to the victims in a conflict.
International aid providers include multilateral agencies, such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM); bilateral agencies providing aid from donor governments; the International Red Cross movement; and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Multilateral agencies have the advantage of being able to mobilize significant political influence as well as logistical and economic resources. However, they have a structural bias toward the state, which limits their ability to operate impartially. More recently, the UN has developed alternative approaches of intervention, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, in disasters where there is no effective government or the government has been unable or unwilling to provide assistance, such as in Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. Bilateral aid agencies often respond on the basis of foreign policy objectives and are likely to have a political position on the war, resulting in an unbalanced provision of assistance.
NGOs usually have the strength of greater independence and flexibility as well as long-term on-the-ground experience, though they have less international influence and political power than multilateral and bilateral agencies. Local NGOs, in particular, have the important resources of local knowledge, informed staff and established trust among the population.
(For a more complete discussion of coordination in emergency settlement situations, see topic 5 Interagency Coordination During Emergencies.) Each of the various actors has particular strengths and resources to contribute to the provision of humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies. Ideally, the provision of assistance would be based on a needs and resources assessment which identifies what assistance is needed, where and by whom. A humanitarian assistance plan of operation developed through a coordination process should be based on the capacities and resources of each agency or organization involved in the effort to respond to the identified needs. Through a coordinated response which incorporates the tasks identified below, limited resources and energies could be effectively utilized, minimizing duplication and competition between providers.
Dialogue - One of the dangers of a coordinated and centralized approach to humanitarian assistance in complex emergencies arises from the multiple responsibilities and interactions among the many actors. Disagreements and an inability of providers to unite in a coordinated plan of operation is often a reflection of underlying differences about what are fundamentally matters of principle. Recognition of these differences and the acceptance of multiple agendas, may facilitate the development of a division of labor. However, when the differences in principles result in conflicting goals and objectives, coordination may not be possible. Ethical values motivating different agencies vary considerably depending on the nature and origin of the agencies. The common factor is that agencies are interested in somehow protecting and providing assistance to the affected civilian population. How this goal is implemented varies considerably. Constant dialogue - about principles, goals and objectives, agency strengths and weaknesses - is necessary if some level of consensus and a coordinated response is to be achieved.
A division of labor, with individual aspects of the coordination task assumed by individual actors, may be more manageable and effective. Such a division of labor would move coordination from the center to the field, based on a shared plan of action as the following example from the former Yugoslavia illustrates:
In the Croatian town of Pakrac, located in United Nations Protected Area (UNPA) West, reconstruction efforts were begun in late 1993 following widespread ethnic cleansing during 1991-92. Croatian NGOs enlisted and trained international volunteers, who are now living with families in the area and participating in work camps to rebuild homes and community buildings. The activity, which began in Croatian neighborhoods, has recently expanded to include Serb families as well. Labor and materials are channeled from NGOs in Europe; limited assistance is also provided by the UNDPs Office in Vienna as part of its Social Reconstruction Programme.
Reviewing the various actors and their roles, a Croatian NGO official notes that The large international organizations are very important when it comes to organizing mass support in the form of funds, food, and shelter.
But for reconciliation you must work with individuals and on the local level. This the United Nations cant really organize (Minear, 1994, p. 8).
Evaluation - The role of the outside critic can be an asset. The concerned humanitarian critic may identify gaps in service delivery, unnecessarily compromised principles, and negative impacts resulting from the provision of assistance. On-going, self-critical evaluation of coordinated strategies is essential if humanitarian efforts are to avoid contributing to the disaster and facilitate long-term peace and development. Certainly the critique of informed and concerned individuals and organizations must be considered.
Capacity development - Civilian management and coordination of relief distribution and assistance may facilitate the development of civil society as well as minimize the concern civilians may have regarding questionable motives of aid providers.
The obstacle of military conflict - situation mapping
The primary obstacle to providing assistance in complex emergencies is military conflict. In order to overcome this obstacle, Smith (1993) proposes a mapping exercise as one strategy for developing a coordinated and effective emergency relief operation to sustain civilians in the context of war. The first step in this strategy is to identify three distinct zones within the operational area: government-controlled areas, insurgent-controlled areas, and those areas controlled by neither side.
The second step is to define access to each area and assign international aid providers to the areas they are best suited to serve. Those areas that are most vulnerable to attack should be identified and coordinated responses of protection and assistance must be developed. Such areas include: contested land areas, strategic geographical areas (for example, garrisons, urban centers, essential economic resources), and potential trouble spots (for example, refugee camps or major aid or logistical resources, such as warehouses, ports, airports, roads). In the best-case scenario, providers would present belligerents with service plans and negotiate operational agreements. It is necessary for humanitarian agencies to work together and present a united front in order to mitigate manipulating strategies of the belligerents. In addition, mechanisms must be established for participation of the civilian population in the planning and provision of assistance, and for accountability of all involved in the humanitarian response.
The final phase of the mapping exercise involves an analysis of military strategies employed in conflict. Most often the state assumes a defensive position in a conflict, attempting to protect their authority, power and infrastructure. Insurgency forces generally assume an offensive position, seeking to expand their authority and erode the authority, resources and power of the state. Relief operations and military strategies may intersect at the following points and each area should be fully analyzed as operational plans are designed and implemented in order to mitigate manipulation by the contending forces:
1. Logistics - Transportation and communications are crucial to any military strategy. The goal of the government or conventional military forces is generally to keep infrastructural systems open and accessible. Insurgency forces may attempt to restrict transportation and disrupt communications. Relief providers depend on a national infrastructure to implement programs and can only rarely rely on alternative systems. The creation of separate communications and transportation systems is expensive and may give belligerents the opportunity to fully exploit existing systems for military purposes. In addition, the development of additional infrastructure may benefit the government, particularly when such expansion is implemented through government channels. However, aid providers may become military targets when infrastructure systems are shared with belligerents.
2. Geography and demography - The goal of belligerents is to control or gain control of territory and civilian populations. Aid may become a means by which parties to the conflict seek to establish the loyalty of populations and control of territory. Aid providers should seek to provide relief independent of the control of belligerents.
Among the flood of refugees who fled Rwanda in 1994 were the extremists who were the principal killers in the genocide of well over a half-million Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu citizens. They used their positions of power and privilege to control the relief aid which was intended for the innocent refugees whom they used as camouflage for their operations. Such leaders served the short-tern need of efficient food distribution within the camps, but rapidly led to militia control of the camps. The extremists were able to use the protection and assistance of international refugee support to establish their operations in exile within the refugee camps. They established control of both territory and people to strengthen their position.
3. Economics - Relief and humanitarian assistance may provide sustenance to the combatant forces and increase the logistical capacity of those forces. Assistance may enhance the political and social standing of the military force governing the area of service and grant them humanitarian credentials that they do not deserve. Assistance may also disrupt local production and markets. In addition, it may be exploited by some for personal economic advantage.
The Special Relief Programme for Angola (SRPA) was launched in 1990 in the midst of war in order to provide as much basic assistance as possible to civilians in all areas of the country, on the basis of neutrality. After the peace agreement in 1991, SRPA II was implemented with similar objectives. Both the Government of Angola and the UNITA resistance forces tried to manipulate the program to their advantage. Following resumption of the war in 1992, both sides showed contempt for humanitarian principles, but they agreed to a re-launch of the relief program because it served the war economies of both parties. UNITA had faced a cut-off in assistance from South Africa and the Angolan government had been forced to eliminate funding for social services as part of their economic reform (Omaar and de Waal, 1994).
4. Politics - Combatants will vie for international recognition and political legitimacy. Aid should be provided evenly in areas of need, avoiding the expansion of legitimacy for any party. Relief agencies must ensure they equitably manage the inevitable incidents that arise in war. In addressing important issues about the origins and determinants of conflict and human rights abuses, the aid community must treat all similar incidents the same way.
5. Social trends - Belligerents to a conflict pursue the twin goals of capturing the hearts and minds of civilians and undermining the credibility of the enemy. They may use aid resources to pacify populations or to obtain their loyalty. They may also use terror (rape, torture and violence) to undermine civilian support for their enemy.
For example, in Somalia in January 1991, humanitarian relief efforts were frustrated by deliberate actions of the waning parties to prevent relief supplies from reaching their enemies (Jonah, 1993).
Strategy analysis - An analysis of military strategies employed in conflict is essential to any humanitarian assistance strategy that providers adopt. The points identified above may serve as a guide to that process. When humanitarian assistance agencies coordinate their relief and protection efforts and establish a division of labor, the opportunities for belligerents to undermine, manipulate or exploit such resources may be mitigated. It is more likely that the aid community will be able to establish rules of operation when the focus is on reaching all civilians in need, not manipulating operational borders.
Public information - When assistance providers negotiate with one another and articulate a stated position on their response to human rights offenses, and attacks on civilian populations, personnel, aid convoys, and the infrastructure required for relief work, belligerents will be less likely to succeed in their efforts to manipulate civilians, providers and aid. Regular and comprehensive public statements regarding conduct of the relief operation may also help to mitigate propaganda or belligerents efforts to use aid to their benefit.
Participation - Civilian participation throughout the operation is the best mitigating factor. In addition, such participation creates a base for long-term reconstruction and development. In a report on humanitarianism and war, Minear, et. al. (1991) wrote:
Civilian management of disaster relief programs represents an investment in the functioning of civil society, democratic institutions, and human rights.... While not ruling out any and all involvement by the military, whether on the receiving or the sending end, the importance of civilian management suggests a preference for assisting civilian initiatives in the difficult task of nation-building (p. 39).
The media can be used to maximize the potential for effective programming of assistance in complex emergencies. Nearly all parties to a conflict appear sensitive to public and world opinion. The publication of treaty violations, human rights abuses and military attacks on civilian populations, humanitarian personnel, aid convoys, and the infrastructure required for relief work discredits the aggressor and undermines the authority they seek to establish. Therefore, the media can have a moderating influence on the violent and destructive behavior of warring parties. A positive, cooperative relationship with the media also may serve to expose the plight of civilian populations, foster political and public pressure for their sake, and help generate public support for humanitarian assistance and protection.
There are also risks involved in developing relationships with the press. Media personnel seek information about complex emergencies and the nature of the crisis, how humanitarian operations are proceeding, how given agencies are performing and how the government and insurgent forces are operating. Humanitarian assistance providers may not have access to such up-to-date information, if it is available. Superficial or partisan news releases or publications may create tensions in the region or threaten donor support. Forthright answers may put pressure on agency relationships with belligerents or undermine sensitive negotiations to gain access to vulnerable populations.
Humanitarian assistance agencies should have a clear strategy for how to relate with the media. Reporters and correspondents will ask tough questions, expect clear answers and demand accountability. Agencies that engage in relationships with the media will have to deal with the media representation of their response efforts and the consequences of such publicity.
The potential involvement of outside military forces and the use of military forces may have significant deterrent value and influence when humanitarian assistance providers negotiate with belligerents. When providers are unable to provide assistance to victimized populations because of government or insurgent actions, military support is increasingly utilized. There are some who argue that when evidence is overwhelming that people are dying because of the deliberate obstruction of humanitarian assistance, the international community has the obligation to intervene to assure that relief reaches the victims (Jonah, 1993). However, involvement of military forces in the provision of humanitarian assistance is seriously debated. The role of the military in humanitarian emergencies may involve a variety of responsibilities, ranging from peacekeeping, to peacemaking, peace enforcement or peace building.
Peacekeeping has been defined by The International Peace Academy as: The prevention, containment, moderation and termination of hostilities between or within states through the medium of third party intervention, organized and directed internationally, using personnel to restore and maintain peace (cited by Gordenker and Weiss, 1989, p. 126). In such cases, the use of military forces is generally defensive and non-coercive. Peacekeeping operations launched under Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter require the consent of the parties to the conflict. Peacekeeping activities may involve security-related services or the provision of technical services.
Security-related activities may focus on maintaining safe conditions for threatened groups or persons. Their primary responsibility in some situations may be to maintain a separation of conflicting forces. In other situations, they may provide protection for civilian populations and humanitarian personnel.
Technical military services and logistical capacities may be utilized to deliver relief assistance and medical care, as well as to restore communications and transportation systems. When war and violence escalate to the point that humanitarian assistance providers are unable to access vulnerable populations, the resources and logistical capacities of military establishments may be the only means of obtaining access.
Peacemaking activities also may involve security-related services or the provision of technical services. They are distinguished from peacekeeping activities in that they are implemented without the consent of the government or parties to the conflict in the country. Chapter VII of the UN Charter enables the Security Council to undertake military action to provide humanitarian access or impose economic sanctions, without consent of a government. Often referred to as peace enforcement or peace building activities, in addition to peacemaking, such initiatives have been undertaken in Northern Iraq, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia.
For example, when the land routes to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo were cut off in 1992, existing peacekeeping operations were extended beyond the mandate of monitoring the original peace process to supporting and protecting humanitarian relief operations. A humanitarian airlift of food and medical supplies was flown into the besieged capital by UN peacekeeping forces, with aircraft provided by about 20 nations. This effort required the UN peacekeeping forces to secure and manage the citys airport. In addition, a massive land operation of military escorts to protect relief convoys delivering food and relief supplies to other areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina was implemented.
The distinction between peacekeeping and peacemaking is unclear and criteria for deciding if and when military intervention is necessary should be established prior to any military involvement. Mackinlay (1993) suggests three categories that may define the scope of responsibility and involvement of military forces in humanitarian emergencies: national level security that assures the protection of serviceable ports and air terminals; local security that assures secure storage facilities for relief supplies, the protection of convoys, maintenance and improvement of roads, and bridges and de-mining operations; emergency logistics that provide support for the effective functioning of relief agencies, including communications, local air, land and waterway transport, heavy lift equipment, freight handling facilities, shelter, field power systems and potable water. In all cases the role of the military must be defined and a code of conduct for the use of force must be established.
When forceful military intervention is employed, the act of military intervention may involve high levels of violence, or the threat to do so, in order to protect civilian populations or the integrity of states. In the absence of internationally accepted criteria for intervention, charges of political motivations, subjectivity and (increasingly) the media-driven nature of responses are inevitable. Why intervention in Somalia in 1992 and not in Southern Sudan? Why in Bosnia and not Armenia, Tajikistan, Liberia and a dozen other places where crises have either exploded or are likely to explode in the near future?
Coordinating humanitarian and military operations
The coordination of humanitarian assistance with political and military actions is fraught with difficulties. It blurs the traditionally distinct roles of humanitarian and military agencies. Military assistance makes it difficult for humanitarian providers to operate evenhandedly and with credibility throughout an operational area. Access to people in need may be compromised. Negotiating the conditions of relief delivery may be made more difficult, as motives become suspect and relationships more adversarial (UNHCR, 1993). In addition, once a humanitarian organization has supported military intervention, they must be prepared to support the force that is used and may find their humanitarian agenda compromised (Omaar and de Waal, 1994).
Military resources are expensive and they can inhibit the development of local resources and institutions. The import of large quantities of relief supplies and food can destroy local markets and food systems, create food shortages and inflation. Military officials often lack the local knowledge necessary to plan and distribute relief effectively, based on an analysis of overall relief needs, local resources, and long-term reconstruction and development requirements (Mackinlay, 1993; Weiss and Minear, 1993).
Serious questions are introduced for humanitarian assistance organizations and personnel when military operations become part of an assistance effort. Under what conditions might a provider of humanitarian assistance collaborate with military forces to ensure service delivery to an emergency settlement? What forms might this collaboration take? When should an assistance provider refuse to collaborate with military forces? In each context these questions will have to be answered by those who are committed to relieve the suffering of civilian populations.
Military involvement must be understood as a limited response at extraordinary expense. If military involvement is undertaken, it should be integrated into the humanitarian assistance paradigm. In this regard, at the point of military engagement, a coordinating team should be established that includes leaders in disaster management, humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and development, conflict resolution, cross-line counterparts and military leaders.
It is essential to think about military intervention in a framework that links humanitarian assistance with conflict resolution. In addition, the need and outcome of military intervention must be evaluated for humanitarian purposes in terms of its impact on longer-term transformation of the conflict, rather than on its short-term capacity to effect disaster and relief goals. The primacy of humanitarian objectives must be maintained and the military must play, and be perceived to play, a subordinate, facilitating and supporting service role throughout a peacekeeping operation.
Military intervention should be a last resort of the international community in response to complex emergencies. All appropriate opportunities to strengthen and enforce, not weaken, the principle of universal human rights should be employed. Gross violators of these universal human rights, particularly at policy levels, should be charged and tried in international court for crimes against humanity. Civilian populations will not be able to live with security until they are assured that their human rights will be protected and enforced. If reconciliation and peace is to be achieved within a society, those responsible for human rights violations must be held accountable.
Uniform quantitative standards for the provision of assistance in complex emergencies do not exist in the same way that they do for more technical aspects of emergency settlement. However, many critical issues arise for humanitarian assistance providers in the context of violence and war.
First, providers face the question of involvement in the humanitarian emergency and responsibilities for providing assistance. Given the contested nature of resources in conflict situations, the issue of how to work in solidarity with the civil population at risk in the complex emergency and provide services evenhandedly in all areas of conflict is particularly troublesome. Complex analysis of the political, social, economic and military factors related to each particular emergency must be conducted and re-evaluated on an on-going basis. Programs must be developed to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need, without fueling the military conflict. The question of coordination with other humanitarian assistance providers, the nature of relations and negotiations with belligerents to the conflict, and cooperation with outside military forces that may intervene in the emergency must be resolved.
Complex humanitarian emergencies challenge the professionalism and capacities of humanitarian assistance providers and organizations. Transparency of motives and accountability to recipient populations as well as donors is required. The need to redress the historical inequities and human rights abuses which are at the root of so many of todays conflicts is a challenge to the international community that supports and directs international humanitarian assistance. Integrated provision of relief, reconstruction and development assistance is essential if human suffering is to be alleviated and international peace and security is to be advanced.
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