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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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Same Space Different Mandates International Edition

Abstract In response to overseas natural or manmade disasters and complex emergencies, defence forces, police, government agencies and the aid community often find themselves operating in the same physical space as one another. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding and confusion over stakeholder roles, responsibilities, cultures and terminologies can impede communication and coherency in program implementation, leading to reduced effectiveness in meeting the needs of the host population. Issues such as humanitarian space shrinking due to restrictions on humanitarian access; perceptions regarding subordination of humanitarian principles; the tensions that arise between political, humanitarian and military objectives within integrated multiagency stabilisation efforts; and the increase in the number of organisations and individuals operating in these environments all serve to add a degree of confusion and potential for discord. However, experience has shown that improved mutual understanding of the roles, mandates, principles, cultures and objectives of the various civil-military stakeholders enhances constructive engagement, dialogue and communication prior to and during deployments. With this dialogue and communication comes greater opportunity to achieve maximum benefits for people and nations affected by natural disasters and conflict. The Australian Civil-Military Centre and the Australian Council for International Development have developed this document, Same Space– Different Mandates: International…

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Same Space – Different Mandates (Australian Edition)

Abstract In response to overseas natural or man-made disasters and complex emergencies, the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Federal Police, Australian Government agencies and the aid community often find themselves operating in the same physical space as one another. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding and confusion over stakeholder roles, responsibilities, cultures and terminologies can impede communication and coherency in program implementation, leading to reduced effectiveness in meeting the needs of the host population. Issues—such as shrinkage of humanitarian space due to restrictions on humanitarian access; perceptions regarding subordination of humanitarian principles; the tensions that arise between political, humanitarian and military objectives within integrated multi-agency stabilisation efforts; and the increase in the number of organisations and individuals operating in these environments—all serve to add a degree of confusion and potential for discord. However, experience has shown that improved mutual understanding of the roles, mandates, principles, cultures and objectives of the various civil-military stakeholders enhances constructive engagement, dialogue and communication both prior to and during deployments. With this dialogue and communication comes greater opportunity to achieve maximum benefits for people and nations affected by natural disasters and conflict. To this end, the Australian Civil-Military Centre and the Australian Council for International Development—in collaboration…

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