Humanitarian Negotiation: Key Challenges
and Lessons Learned in an Emerging Field

References

[1] Geoff Loane, “Barriers to Negotiating Humanitarian Access: The Experience of the ICRC,” available at [LINK]

[2] Anna Richardson, “Negotiating humanitarian access in Angola: 1990 – 2000,” New Issues in Refugee Research, Working Paper No. 18, UNHCR, June 2000, p. 23, available at [LINK]

[3] Daniel Toole, “Humanitarian Negotiation: Observations from Recent Experience,” Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University, February 2001, p. 7, available at [LINK]

[4] Gerard McHugh and Manuel Bessler, “Humanitarian Negotiations with Armed Groups: A Manual for Practitioners,” United Nations, January 2006, pp. 25-29, available at [LINK]

[5] Ashley Jackson and Eleanor Davey, “From the Spanish civil war to Afghanistan Historical and contemporary reflections on humanitarian engagement with non-state armed groups,” HPG Working paper, Humanitarian Policy Group, May 2014, p. 10, available at [LINK]

[6] Mark Cutts, “The humanitarian operation in Bosnia, 1992-95: dilemmas of negotiating humanitarian access,” New Issues in Refugee Research, Working Paper No. 8, Policy Research Unit, UNHCR, May 1999, p. 15, available at [LINK]

[7] See, for example, Marie Pierre Allie, “Introduction,” in Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed, eds., Claire Magone, Michael Neuman, and Fabrice Weissman (London: Hurst & Company, 2011), 5; and “Delaunay: Negotiation Key to Gaining Humanitarian Access,” International Peace Institute, April 11, 2012, available at [LINK]

[8] Hugo Slim, “Marketing Humanitarian Space: Argument and Method in Humanitarian Persuasion,” Humanitarian Negotiators Network, HD Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, May 2003, p. 10, available at [LINK]

[9] For a description of the ways that threats of public denunciation were used in humanitarian negotiations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, see Johan Pottier, “Roadblock Ethnography: Negotiating Humanitarian Access in Ituri, Eastern DR Congo, 1999-2004,” Africa 76 (2), 2006, at 23.

[10] Arafat Jamal, “Access to safety? Negotiating protection in a Central Asian emergency,” Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit, UNHCR, p. 14, available at [LINK]

[11] Soledad Herroro, “Negotiating humanitarian access: Between a rock and a hard place,” Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection, February 11, 2014, available at [LINK]

[12] Michel-Olivier Lacharite, “Yemen: A Low Profile,” in Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed, eds., Claire Magone, Michael Neuman, and Fabrice Weissman (London: Hurst & Company, 2011), 43-45.

[13] Ashley Jackson and Abdi Aynte, “Talking to the other side: Humanitarian negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia,” HPG Working paper, Humanitarian Policy Group, December 2013, p. 10, available at [LINK]

[14] McHugh and Bessler, supra note 4, at 50.

[15] Joe DeCapua, “Negotiating Medical Aid in Conflict Zones,” Voice of America, February 2, 2012, available at [LINK]

[16] Ashley Jackson, “Negotiating perceptions: Al-Shabaab and Taliban views of aid agencies,” Policy Brief 61, Humanitarian Policy Group, p. 2, available at [LINK]

[17] Ibid.

[18] Jackson and Aynte, supra note 13, at 16.

[19] Jackson, supra note 16, at 2.

[20] Michaël Neuman (interview with Benoît Leduc), “Somalia: Everything is Open to Negotiation,” Médecins Sans Frontières, Crash, available at [LINK]

[21] For example, the United Nations handbook on humanitarian negotiations produced in 2006 states, “Humanitarian negotiations do not infer any legal status, legitimacy or recognition of the armed group.” See McHugh and Bessler, supra note 4, at 14.

[22] Such governmental concerns affected humanitarian negotiations with armed groups in a wide array of contexts, including Angola in the 1990s and Afghanistan in 2008. For Angola, see Richardson, supra note 2, at 3. For Afghanistan, see Gerard McHugh and Simar Singh, “Preserving the integrity of humanitarian negotiations,” Humanitarian Exchange Magazine, Issue 58, July 2013, available at [LINK]

[23] Max P. Glaser, “Negotiated Access: Humanitarian Engagement with Armed Non-state Actors,” Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2002-2003, p. 40, available at [LINK]

[24] See generally, “Humanitarian Action under Scrutiny: Criminalizing Humanitarian Engagement,” HPCR Working Paper, Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University, February 2011, available at [LINK]; “Countering Terror in Humanitarian Crises: The Challenges of Delivering Aid to Somalia,” Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University, July 2012, available at [LINK]; and Naz K. Modirzadeh, Dustin A. Lewis, and Claude Bruderlein,“Humanitarian engagement under counter-terrorism: a conflict of norms and the emerging policy landscape,” International Review of the Red Cross, Volume 93, Number 883, September 2011, available at [LINK]. Links to additional literature that addresses this issue can be found on the website of the Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, available at [LINK]

[25] McHugh and Singh, supra note 22.

[26] Jackson and Aynte, supra note 13, at 8.

[27] Glaser, supra note 23, at 34.

[28] Loane, supra note 1.

[29] McHugh and Bessler, supra note 4, at 21.

[30] Deborah Mancini-Griffoli and André Picot, “Humanitarian Negotiation: A Handbook for Securing Access, Assistance and Protection for Civilians in Armed Conflict,” HD Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, October 2004, p. 36, available at [LINK]

[31] Ashley Jackson, “Humanitarian negotiations with armed non-state actors: key lessons from Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia,” Policy Brief 55, Humanitarian Policy Group, p. 4, available at [LINK]

[32] For Somalia, see Ibid., at 4. For the former Yugoslavia, see Cutts, supra note 6, at 11.

[33] For example, one practitioner writes: “Personality assessment is another key judgement that humanitarian negotiators need to make as they seek to persuade people. Understanding what makes a person tick is essential to gauging how best to tick with them. Is your interlocutor essentially a loner or gregarious? Is he or she intrinsically happy or sad? Is she or he driven by power, insecurity, ideals or circumstance? What and who are important to his or her life? What makes them laugh and what makes them angry? Are they trustworthy? Are they sane?” See Slim, supra note 8, at 14.

[34] See, for example, Antonio Donini, “Negotiating with the Taliban,” in Humanitarian Diplomacy: Practitioners and Their Craft, eds. Larry Minear and Hazel Smith (Tokyo: United Nations University, 2007), 171.

[35] McHugh and Bessler, supra note 4, at 16.

[36] Antonio Donini, “Negotiating with the Taliban,” in Humanitarian Diplomacy: Practitioners and Their Craft, eds. Larry Minear and Hazel Smith (Tokyo: United Nations University, 2007), 171.

[37] One context where this issue has arisen is Somalia, where the decentralized nature of al-Shabaab presented difficulties. See Jackson and Aynte, supra note 13, at 17.

[38] Ibid., at 11.

[39] Ibid., at 10.

[40] For an assessment of how this factor affected humanitarian negotiations in Iraq, see Claudia Rodriguez, “Negotiating the legitimacy of humanitarian action in Iraq,” in Humanitarian Diplomacy: Practitioners and Their Craft, eds. Larry Minear and Hazel Smith (Tokyo: United Nations University, 2007), 125.

[41] Mancini-Griffoli and Picot, supra note 30, at 29.

[42] For examples, see generally Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (New York: Penguin Books, 1991); Gary T. Lowenthal, “A General Theory of Negotiation Process, Strategy, and Behavior,” 31 University of Kansas Law Review 69 (1982-1983); Dennis Sandole, "Extending the Reach of Basic Human Needs: A Comprehensive Theory for the Twenty-first Century," in Conflict Resolution and Human Needs: Linking Theory and Practice, eds. Kevin Avruch and Christopher Mitchell (New York: Routledge, 2013); and Jeswald W. Salacuse, The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing, and Mending Deals Around the World in the Twenty-first Century (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).

[43] McHugh and Bessler, supra note 4, at 50.

About the Author

Rob Grace is a Senior Associate at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. He would like to thank Claude Bruderlein and Julia Brooks for helpful comments and edits offered during the process of drafting this paper.

Rob Grace

Rob Grace