Humanitarian Policy Making for Civil-Military Coordination (CIMIC)

Establishing a policy framework for working with armed forces in complex political emergencies. Interaction between civilian and military actors in complex political emergencies (CPE) continues to warrant close examination, as the scope and implications of these relationships are significantly impacting contemporary humanitarian operations. Acknowledging that such involvement between military and humanitarian bodies has been widely questioned and critiqued, this paper takes no position as to the ideal nature of the relationship; it adopts as its base for discussion situations in which the relationship is already in place. In recent years, humanitarian organizations have been criticized for the ad hoc style of interaction, as well as over the highly fragmented nature of this sector. There are many explanations for this lack of structure and coordination, a broad discussion of which is beyond the scope of this brief. However, this failure to collaborate in planning has implications for civil‐military coordination (CIMIC). Policies, methods and tools to develop collaboration of an appropriate nature and character between humanitarian bodies dealing with military partnerships are vital for the success of any civil‐military undertaking.


October 2008

Fundamentally, civil‐military coordination may be defined as “The essential dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors in humanitarian emergencies that is necessary to protect and promote humanitarian principles, avoid competition, minimize inconsistency, and when appropriate pursue common goals”1 wherein military actors include “a wide spectrum of actors such as the local or national military, multi‐national forces, UN peacekeeping troops, international military observers, foreign occupying forces, regional troops or other officially organized troops”2 and humanitarian actors refer to “civilians, whether national or international, UN or non‐UN, governmental or non‐governmental, which have a commitment to humanitarian principles and are engaged in humanitarian activities.”3 It is important to note that in CPEs, more than one type of both military and humanitarian actors are likely to be present, and so coordination may entail establishing different protocols given the nature of each military actor with which humanitarian actors are involved.

Recent Tweets

Follow Us

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Vimeo icon
YouTube icon

Our Sponsor

A Program Of

All materials © 2014 Harvard University

Back to Top

Back to Top