Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Gender and Diversity

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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 gender but also the “intersectionality” of these various aspects of identity. Yet, many frontline teams still do not effectively leverage the richness and diversity of their team members. For example, decisions about who should assume the role of lead negotiator in a given context are sometimes based on hierarchy alone, without considering the added value of negotiators with diverse identities across the team. Conversely, in theaters of operation where a conservative culture is prevalent, personnel diversity is sometimes discouraged, leading humanitarians to prioritize pragmatism over policies that would encourage inclusion and diversity.

Through discussions with experts and humanitarian practitioners, this podcast will explore the impact of gender and other aspects of diversity on frontline humanitarian negotiations. In particular, this conversation will explore:

  • How do conflict dynamics in different contexts impact perceptions of identity?
  • What are the challenges of creating and maintaining a diverse humanitarian staff, particularly in negotiating teams?
  • What tools and methods exist to foster an enabling environment for team diversity within an organization, particularly in complex humanitarian environments?
  • What tools, methods, or policies are needed to enhance the capacity of frontline humanitarian negotiators and their organizations in considering and furthering various dimensions of diversity when elaborating strategies for their negotiations?
Ekram El-Huni
Independent Humanitarian Practitioner
Twitter: @ekramelhuni
Federica du Pasquier
Legal Attache, International Committee of the Red Cross
Twitter: @ICRC


"Gender Diversity Dynamics in Humanitarian Negotiations: The International Committee of the Red Cross as a Case Study on the Frontlines of Armed Conflicts" ATHA, November 2016,


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