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A Handbook for Securing Access, Assistance and Protection for Civilians in Armed Conflict


Mr Andre Picot , Consultant.

Research Project

Field Study of Humanitarian Negotiations (February - June 2004)

> see the project description


conflicts - humanitarian action - humanitarian negotiations - international law - negotiations


How many humanitarian workers have walked empty-handed out of a government office, emerged frustrated from a long meeting with militia commanders, or reluctantly turned away from a military checkpoint wondering if they could have done better? Many people in the UN agencies, the Red Cross movement and NGOs spend a great deal of time presenting the case for humanitarian action. This is despite the fact that the international norms on which humanitarian action is based are, in principle, recognised as absolute and so, in an important sense, as non-negotiable.

Power enables parties to a conflict to violate people's rights, avoid their obligations or pick and choose where and when they decide to meet them. Humanitarians thus constantly need to remind, affirm, encourage, convince, persuade and pressurize all parties in an armed conflict to agree to humanitarian action and ensure respect for international law. This creates a difficult operational paradox for humanitarian workers, as they find themselves inevitably negotiating in practice that which is non-negotiable in principle. Such is a humanitarian's typical operational environment and his or her foremost day-to-day challenge.

Now, for the first time, there is a handbook on field-based practice in humanitarian negotiations which addresses the challenge of good negotiation skills specifically for humanitarian workers. Coordinated by Hugo Slim of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD Centre) and written by Deborah Mancini-Griffoli (of HD Centre) and André Picot (of ICRC) in collaboration with numerous academic and international partners, the study analyzes the factors that prevent and enable successful humanitarian negotiations in particular settings that are typical of humanitarian emergencies. It aims to establish common understanding and good practice for future policy-making, operational planning and capacity-building in humanitarian negotiations.


A Handbook for Securing Access, Assistance and Protection for Civilians in Armed Conflict
English | [295 ko] > download

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