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Country-specific civil–military coordination guidelines

Research reports

Written by Victoria Metcalfe-Hough

Effective civil–military coordination is essential in achieving the over-arching humanitarian goal of saving lives and alleviating suffering. However, in practice it is often difficult to strike the correct balance between a necessary and appropriate level of interaction with the military, including the use of military assets to support humanitarian operations, and maintaining the distinction between the civil and the military spheres.

A range of international humanitarian policies have been developed over the years in order to guide humanitarian and military actors on the parameters of their relationship at strategic and operational levels. However, much of this guidance is, by design, generic; it does not address in detail how to manage some of the specificities of operational engagement, nor does it provide guidance for the full range of highly complex environments in which military and humanitarians operate.

This HPG Working Paper reviews existing country-specific humanitarian civil–military coordination guidelines, considers how they have been used to contextualise global policy and explores how they have been used in practice to support a more effective humanitarian response.

It is based on a desk review of existing country- or situation-specific guidelines, a review of literature pertinent to this issue and semi-structured interviews with key informants from the humanitarian community.

Victoria Metcalfe and Michelle Berg