In recent years national and international militaries have played an increasingly important role in crisis relief efforts, and disaster management in particular has come to be seen as one of their core tasks. Disaster management is a growth area not least because the incidence of disasters of all sizes is predicted to increase in frequency. As the frequency and the human cost of natural disasters increase, humanitarian and military actors will increasingly find themselves trying to assist the same populations.
However, despite existing guidance on the use of military assets in humanitarian response, their use continues to be a source of tension between international humanitarian and military actors in some contexts and there are several challenges to achieving an effective dialogue between these actors. Early structured engagement by humanitarian actors with the military, i.e. before a disaster strikes, may go some way to improving the overall response. Such early engagement would ideally build relations, clarify roles, ensure appropriate preparations for disaster response and raise awareness of the distinct nature of humanitarian action and the need to preserve the integrity of humanitarian principles.
The HPG Roundtable on Civil Military Coordination in the Asia Pacific Region aims to contribute to such engagement. This roundtable will bring together various stake holders from the UN, humanitarian agencies, regional bodies, government representatives, and military and security bodies to explore policy and operational debates relating to civil-military coordination in disaster management in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is the third event in a two-year research and public affairs project led by the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) at the Overseas Development Institute which explores new developments in the relationship between international military and security actors and the international humanitarian community with a view to facilitating more effective and principled coordination in crisis contexts.