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Civil-military coordination: the search for common ground

Hero image description: Port-au-Prince. ICRC delegate meets with Colonels from the Brazilian battalion of MINUSTA. Image credit:CICR/KOKIC, Marko Image license:ICRC permission

Effective civil–military coordination is essential to the humanitarian objective of saving lives and alleviating suffering. However, in recent years civil–military coordination has faced a number of major and often interconnected challenges, including expanded international intervention in fragile and conflict-affected states, the increased frequency and scale of natural disasters related to climate change and the rapid proliferation of humanitarian actors.

In the face of these multiple challenges, increased interaction and dialogue between military and humanitarian actors is essential. However, recent operational experience (such as in Haiti, Myanmar and Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq), real-time evaluations of crisis response, and the often one-sided policy debates on the securitisation of aid have all demonstrated continuing weaknesses in civil–military coordination. Military and humanitarian actors have consistently failed to reach a common understanding of the role that each plays, the challenges they face and, critically, the priority needs of affected populations and how these can or should be addressed.

This project aims to bring together military and humanitarian actors to discuss current challenges to civil–military coordination, to consider how existing frameworks relate to recent global political and other developments, to try to find agreement regarding respective competences and responsibilities and to work together to ensure more effective civil–military coordination at policy, strategic and operational levels.


Ashley Jackson, Lilianne Fan, Sean Loughna, Simone Haysom

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