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Humanitarian Spaces: Understanding Military-NGO interaction in conflict and disaster

Abstract This paper is a precursor to an in-depth study being carried out with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and RMIT University, outlining the need for improved understanding of the challenges and opportunities of Military-NGO interaction in complex post-conflict spaces. It is well known that military and NGO operations occupy overlapping spaces in conflict environments, with distinct and divergent cultures and mandates for those operations. However, their understanding of and attitudes towards each other and their missions are equally significant in defining their capacity and willingness to work constructively in tandem. Indeed, the minimum requirement of civilian and military organisations is to work in the same location, if not necessarily cooperatively or collaboratively. Harris highlights that as a result of geo-political and combat developments globally, key actors now regularly find themselves outside of their traditional zones of operation – militaries as peacekeepers, transitional police; NGOs operating in increasingly violent environments, while attempting to maintain independence. Humanitarian Spaces outlines important differences in the meaning of common terminology, such as “humanitarian” and “CIMIC/CMCoord”, the combination of significant security needs and human needs necessitating distinct multi-sector responses to conflict, and the difficulties of perceptions of conflict response operations by those affected, as key…

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Afghanistan – Reconstruction challenges and dilemmas

Abstract This paper outlines the general context of reconstruction endeavours, identifies some of the specific roles that international actors have come to play, and concludes by discussing some of the challenges and dilemmas that the Afghanistan case has highlighted. If there is a key lesson for civil-military interaction from this case, it is surely that there is a huge difference between abstract commitment to ‘coordination’ as a good, and the practical achievement of coordination in an environment populated by a range of actors with diverse histories, interests, and time horizons. Professor William Maley AM William Maley is Professor and Director of the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University. He is a Member of the Order of Australia (AM ), and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (FASSA). He is author of Rescuing Afghanistan (London: Hurst & Co., 2006), and The Afghanistan Wars (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, 2009); co-authored Regime Change in Afghanistan: Foreign Intervention and the Politics of Legitimacy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), and Political Order in Post-Communist Afghanistan (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1992); edited Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban (New York: New York University Press, 1998, 2001); and co-edited The…

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