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Humanitarian Negotiation Series: The Role of Laws and Norms

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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What role do humanitarian law and norms play in humanitarian negotiations? Practitioners have diverse array of views: some field workers perceive that the law holds a high level of practical utility in their negotiations, while others have found it to be irrelevant to their work. Indeed, although international humanitarian law (IHL) constitutes a legal basis for humanitarian action during armed conflict, practitioners often find that rooting negotiations in an IHL discourse—as well as in other sources of international law, such as human rights or refugee law—can actually be counterproductive.

Rather than using an explicit IHL framework, frontline...



Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Negotiation with Non-State Armed Groups at the Frontlines

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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In many of today’s frontline humanitarian environments, access is increasingly difficult to obtain and maintain, and continued engagement with non-state armed actors is an integral aspect of ensuring assistance and protection activities and advocating for compliance with international legal standards. Humanitarian professionals working in these spaces must navigate myriad challenges and dilemmas in order to negotiate an operational space for engagement with armed groups, including balancing...



Practitioner Profile | Jennifer Schirmer Part II

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

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On August 24, 2016 the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly referred to as the FARC, signed a peace deal after 52 years of internal conflict. This peace deal marks a potential end to the over half century of violence that has killed over 220,000 Colombians and displaced more than six million.

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Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Gender and Diversity

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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Personal relationships and trust-building constitute critical dimensions of frontline humanitarian negotiations. In order to operate effectively, in many contexts, humanitarian organizations must first ensure that they are accepted by the parties to a conflict, and establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with counterparts. Moreover, frontline negotiations occur in contexts of armed conflict or other types of violence that often accentuate or exacerbate the relevancy of personal identities such as gender, culture, ethnicity, religion, and age. In response to this aspect of the field environment, negotiation teams have become increasingly diverse in recent years, in terms of not only...



Practitioner Profile | Roxanne Krystalli

Monday, November 7, 2016

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The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) recently signed peace accords bringing an end to 52 years of violent conflict. For his efforts to negotiate and conclude the peace deal, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on October 7. Yet on October 2, Colombian voters rejected the deal by a narrow margin in a national referendum, putting the peace process back in limbo.

In this practitioner profile, ATHA discusses the situation in Colombia with Roxanne Krystalli, a researcher and humanitarian practitioner in the areas of gender, violence, and victim-centered transitional justice. Roxanne is a Program Manager at the...



Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Protection of Medical Personnel and Operations at the Frontlines

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

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Recent high-profile attacks on humanitarian professionals and operations in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among others, call attention to the growing vulnerabilities of humanitarian staff and medical operations at the frontlines. These attacks endanger lives, violate international humanitarian law, and jeopardize the effective delivery of emergency relief to populations in need. In such contexts, humanitarian organizations face difficult legal and operational challenges in reaching populations, while ensuring protection of their own staff and local partners from targeted violence. National staff members are particularly vulnerable; yet tend to receive significantly less protection. In such volatile environments,...


Implications of Applying IHL to Low-Intensity Conflict: From Internal Disturbance to Armed Conflict

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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Humanitarian actors increasingly find themselves in contexts where the application of the norms and concepts of international humanitarian law (IHL) is contested. In particular, those working in possible situations of non-international armed conflict are often faced with the fact that it can be far from clear whether or not there exists a situation of armed conflict, which is required for the application of IHL. Especially in cases of armed insurgencies, spill-over conflicts, riots, urban violence, or violence in fragile states, the application of IHL may be disputed, resulting in a lack of clarity as to the applicable norms, and the more...



Practitioner Profile | Jennifer Schirmer

Monday, September 19, 2016

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On August 24, 2016 the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, commonly referred to as the FARC, signed a peace deal after 52 years of internal conflict. This peace deal marks a potential end to the over half century of violence that has killed over 220,000 Colombians and displaced more than six million.

There are many distinctive attributes to this deal specifically regarding its parameters for reintegration of former guerilla fighters as well as its unique model for transitional justice. On October 2, Colombians will have the opportunity to vote “yes” or “no” on the peace accord, which in its more...



Practitioner Profile | Sareta Ashraph

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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In this practitioner profile, ATHA is joined by Sareta Ashraph, Chief Analyst on the Commission of Inquiry on the Syria crisis since May 2012. The Commission was established by the UN Human Rights Council in August 2011 to investigate and document violations of international law in Syria. Sareta led the investigation and drafting of the Commission's recent report "They Came To Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis", which determined that ISIS was committing the crime of genocide. In this more...



Practitioner Profile | Dr. Jemilah Mahmood

Thursday, June 30, 2016

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The World Humanitarian Summit, held in Istanbul on May 23-24, 2016, was guided by a framework articulated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “Agenda for Humanity,” focusing on areas such as preventing and ending conflicts, enhancing promotion of community resilience, proactive emergency planning, and inter-organizational coordination. In this Practitioner Profile, ATHA is joined by Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary General for Partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Dr. Mahmood shares her insights on the results and outcomes of the discussions and commitments in Istanbul. more...


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