The interaction between humanitarian and military actors: where do we go from here?

Briefing papers
April 2014
Eva Svoboda

Increased engagement by the military in humanitarian crises, often led by the push for stabilisation, has been controversial, particularly for humanitarians. Fearing that their aid activities could be made to serve political and military goals – not humanitarian goals – many agencies have been cautious about embarking on civil-military coordination.

However, effective civil–military coordination can help save lives and alleviate suffering in emergencies. Is it possible to reconcile differing motivations, objectives and even language to develop a complimentary and constructive relationship between military and humanitarian agencies? How should aid workers and military personnel best coordinate and cooperate to effectively deliver aid to people in need?

This policy brief looks at some of the key challenges facing civil-military coordination and suggests concrete ways forward to achieve effective cooperation between civilian and military groups, even in difficult and politicised environments.