Turkish workers load bags of flour provided by the Turkish Red Crescent onto a truck bound for Syria, at the Turkish Syrian border, in Kilis, Turkey,

Humanitarian Diplomacy

Assessing Policies, Practices and Impact of New Forms of Humanitarian Action and Foreign Policy

Humanitarian Diplomacy Exchange and Training Program

Training Course in Humanitarian Diplomacy.

Where: CMI/Bergen Global.

When: August 17-21, 2020.

The training course in humanitarian diplomacy is aimed to practitioners, researchers, and graduate students with interest in humanitarian negotiations, relief, and diplomacy. The course is linked to the project Humanitarian Diplomacy: Assessing Policies, Practices and Impact of New Forms of Humanitarian Action and Foreign Policy.

Providing ongoing access to humanitarian aid in the context of conflict and complex emergencies has always been a major concern for policy makers and humanitarian actors. Thus, humanitarian negotiations have historically been conducted in situations of extreme insecurity and unstable political conditions to secure access, assistance and protection for civilians. The implicit, sometimes even hidden, practices of humanitarian negotiations led to the concept of humanitarian diplomacy (HD), which emerged in the early 2000s. HD is generally defined as persuading decision makers and opinion leaders to act at all times and in all circumstances in the interest of vulnerable people and with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles. HD encompasses activities carried out by humanitarian actors to obtain the space from political and military authorities, within which they can function with integrity. These activities include, for example, arranging for the presence of humanitarian organizations in a given country, negotiating access to civilian populations in need of assistance and protection, monitoring assistance programs, promoting respect for international law and norms, and engaging in advocacy at a variety of levels in support of humanitarian goals. In this scenario, HD is understood as a means to reach the most vulnerable people. The commitment to “leave no one behind” has been a key feature of discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and there is now a growing political consensus that operationalizing “leave no one behind” is the crucial element of the 2030 Agenda. However, a significant tension is embedded in HD. Diplomacy, for instance, is essentially about representation of one polity vis-a-vis another polity. Humanitarianism is about advocating for and helping people in need. Therefore, diplomacy is characterized by compromise and pragmatic dealings whereas the public image of humanitarian action is the opposite: it is about working for ideals and universal principles regardless the interests of specific political actors. How and at what costs is possible to reach the “most vulnerable” in complex emergencies? What diplomatic and practical tools can humanitarian organizations put forward in this task? To what extent are humanitarian principles (humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence) negotiable?

Lectures

17 August: The Art of Diplomacy and the History of Humanitarian Diplomacy.

18 August: Humanitarianism and Human Rights.

19 August: The Politics of Humanitarian Negotiations.

20 August: Medical Humanitarianism and Global Health Diplomacy.

21 August: Independence and Neutrality in Humanitarian Work

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Lecturers include Antonio De Lauri (CMI), Michael Barnett (George Washington University), Costas Costantinou (University of Cyprus), Lauren Carruth (American University, Washington), and Morten Rostrup (MSF).

The training course is integrated into the Bergen Exchanges: https://www.lawtransform.no/bergen-exchanges-2020/ Participants can also apply to the PhD course Effects of Lawfare and take part at the initiatives of the Bergen Exchanges.

How to apply:

Send an email with your CV to the project coordinator, Antonio De Lauri (antonio.delauri@cmi.no) before May 3, 2020.

Costs:

The training course is free. Participants will have to cover the costs of their travel and accommodation.

Antonio De Lauri

Senior Researcher, Coordinator; Humanitarianism and Borders

Salla Turunen

PhD candidate

Sultan Barakat

Professor, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn

Professor, Indiana University Bloomington

Cristina Churruca

Assistant Professor, University of Deusto

Costas Constantinou

Professor, University of Cyprus

Deniz Gökalp

Associate Professor, American University in Dubai

Meliha Altunisik

Professor, Middle East Technical University

This project aims to study the policies, practices and impact of humanitarian diplomacy (HD) as conducted by select state actors that are new major humanitarian donors (Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, UAE) and two traditional humanitarian actors (the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC). This study is of crucial importance in achieving two key objectives: (1) to understand the effects of the growing overlap between humanitarian efforts and states’ foreign policy; and (2) to understand if, how, and to what extent HD is an effective instrument to meet the challenge of leaving no one behind, as stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Providing ongoing access to humanitarian aid in the context of conflict and complex emergencies has always been a major concern for policy makers and humanitarian actors.

To this aim, humanitarian negotiations have historically been conducted in situations of extreme insecurity and unstable political circumstances to secure access, assistance and protection for civilians (Mancini-Griffoli and Picot 2004). The implicit, sometimes even hidden practices of humanitarian negotiations (Magone, Neuman, Weissman 2011) in the early 2000s led to the concept of HD, generally defined as persuading decision makers and opinion leaders to act at all times and in all circumstances in the interest of vulnerable people, and with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles. HD encompasses activities carried out by humanitarian actors to obtain the space from political and military authorities, within which to function with integrity. These activities comprise, for example, arranging for the presence of humanitarian organizations in a given country, negotiating access to civilian populations in need of assistance and protection, monitoring assistance programs, promoting respect for international law and norms, supporting indigenous individuals and institutions, and engaging in advocacy at a variety of levels in support of humanitarian objectives (Minear and Smith 2007). However, HD faces new challenges today, created by the growing role of new donors/state actors and their regional competition; the capacity of traditional actors to remain relevant in the field and, at the same time, remain faithful to humanitarian principles; the interests of the intervening countries; the volatility of public support; the evolving relationship between humanitarian action and other forms of intervention or support, namely development assistance and peace and stabilization operations; the legitimacy of the intervening countries as well as by the need for regional recognition and international support.

As massive humanitarian crises such as those in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria have shown, the “safe havens” humanitarian action was originally meant to provide have become the very targets of parties within conflict. This leaves many people either trapped within the conflict itself or forced to flee along routes where they are in high risk of exploitation by trafficking agents, and where humanitarians have little or no access. The dangers that humanitarianism faces today are the result of war zones and prolonged crises where civilian populations are the intended victims, where access is difficult, where aid workers are in danger of being perceived as a threat or as a resource to be captured, and where their own physical safety is in doubt (Barnett and Weiss 2008). Indeed, access to humanitarian aid is increasingly challenged in ways that also redefine the role of humanitarian actors. 

The character of violent conflicts is changing and the politicization of access to aid has become an integral element of the conflict itself.

This trend has come to the fore in the Middle East (especially in Syria), where the involvement of both new and traditional donors has created new processes of negotiation and definition of the humanitarian space. Qatar, Turkey and the UAE are relevant actors in this context, which sees the merging of aid delivering with a regional competition animated by different stabilization efforts as well as unilateral, bilateral and multilateral humanitarian flows. But what happens to the main challenge of reaching the most vulnerable people in such a complex scenario? This question has implications that directly affect the basic principle of leaving no one behind in the most fundamental meaning of the concept. The commitment to “leave no one behind” has been a key feature of discussions on the SDGs and there is now a growing political consensus that operationalizing “leave no one behind” is the crucial element of the Deliver2030 agenda. With this demanding objective and new problem areas, HD has become a core field dimension of the humanitarian sector (Minear and Smith 2007) and a major instrument of states’ foreign policy. 

The variety of humanitarian actors involved in complex emergencies, their different priorities and goals, produce different understandings and uses of HD. Indeed, the definitions and perceived content of HD vary as widely as the number of organizations (or states) using the term and the humanitarian operations that they carry out. There is a big difference between conceiving the idea of HD, using the term itself, and arriving at international recognition for its definition and agreement on how it should be conducted. The agencies or political actors that have taken the time to reflect about their own humanitarian diplomatic practices remain few and far between (Regnier 2011).