Humanitarians operating on the front lines of today’s armed conflicts need to employ a skill set that combines both wit and tactics in order to overcome the strength and territorial supremacy of their armed group counterparts. In this article, we explore the challenges that humanitarians face when negotiating with non-state armed groups, the strategies available to them, and how these link to the practice of humanitarian diplomacy.

This article has been created for and published by the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN), a joint initiative of World Food Programme, UNHCR, International Committee of the Red Cross, Humanitarian Dialogue and Médecins Sans Frontières. The Centre of Competence facilitates the capture, analysis and sharing of humanitarian negotiation experiences and practices with a view to supporting a more systematic approach to frontline negotiation. It provides a space for multiagency dialogue and intends to foster a community of practice among humanitarian negotiators.

Humanitarian Diplomacy

Jan 2019 - Dec 2022