Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Resource- Guidelines for Relations Between US Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations

The United States Institute of Peace launched their Guidelines for Relations Between US Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations on 24 July 2007.

Have pasted in the broad recommendations for armed forces and humanitarian agencies. Taken out of context, it might look a bit simplistic. There's much more in the guidelines, and the processes aspect is particularly well done. One can only guess at how difficult it was in finding 'lowest common denominators' for such a diverse audience. One can quickly find some issues of contention, such as: 'In situations in which there is no actor to servea as a bridge, a US military Civil Affairs cell could serve as a temporary point-of-contact between NGHOs and other elements of the US Armed Forces.' What about OCHA's CMCS?

To be seen how US stakeholders will implement this- and who will enforce it?

'On July 24, 2007, leaders of the U.S. military and NGO community celebrated a promising moment for civil-military relations in peace operations: the rollout of Guidelines that will serve as “rules of the road” for how the two entities operate in hostile environments.

Facilitated by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Guidelines seek to mitigate frictions between military and NGO personnel over the preservation of humanitarian space in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Principles in the Guidelines include ensuring that military personnel wear uniforms when conducting relief activities to avoid being mistaken for nongovernmental humanitarian organization representatives. Conversely, it recommends that humanitarian relief personnel avoid traveling in U.S. Armed Forces vehicles with the exception of liaison personnel to the extent practical.
The heads of both the U.S. military and InterAction (an umbrella organization for U.S. NGOs) have endorsed the Guidelines and will be disseminating them throughout their organizations. Two years in the making, the effort represents “a desire from both sides to move beyond polemics to proactive problem solving,” said Jeb Nadaner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations at the Pentagon. NGO leaders likewise expressed optimism at the potential for change. “We do not want to understate the importance of this document for us,” said Sam Worthington, InterAction President and CEO. “We believe that these guidelines will serve a purpose beyond U.S. NGOs to our global partners.”

The initiative was launched in March 2005 when Amb. Carlos Pascual, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization at the U.S. State Department, asked the Institute to establish a Working Group on Civil-Military Relations in Non-permissive Environments. What began as a dialogue between military and NGO leaders has resulted in a pioneering effort upon which both sides hope to expand. Military and NGO leaders intend to promulgate the Guidelines throughout their communities via media and education channels: NGOs will publish the Guidelines in their newsletters and literature; the military will incorporate the Guidelines into joint military doctrine publications. The next challenge lies in implementing the Guidelines in the field and creating a monitoring mechanism by which the Guidelines can be continuously tested and revised.

For the U.S. Armed Forces, the following guidelines should be observed consistent with military force protection, mission accomplishment, and operational requirements:

1. When conducting relief activities, military personnel should wear uniforms or other distinctive clothing to avoid being mis taken for NGHO representatives. U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should not display NGHO logos on any military cloth ing, vehicles, or equipment. This does not preclude the appro priate use of symbols recognized under the law of war, such as a red cross, when appropriate. U.S. Armed Forces may use such symbols on military clothing, vehicles, and equipment in appropriate situations.
2. Visits by U.S. Armed Forces personnel to NGHO sites should be by prior arrangement.
3. U.S. Armed Forces should respect NGHO views on the bearing of arms within NGHO sites.
4. U.S. Armed Forces should give NGHOs the option of meeting with U.S. Armed Forces personnel outside military installations for information exchanges.
5. U.S. Armed Forces should not describe NGHOs as “force mul tipliers” or “partners” of the military, or in any other fashion.
6. U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should avoid interfer ing with NGHO relief efforts directed toward segments of the civilian population that the military may regard as unfriendly.
7. U.S. Armed Forces personnel and units should respect the de sire of NGHOs not to serve as implementing partners for the military in conducting relief activities. However, individual NGOs may seek to cooperate with the military, in which case such cooperation will be carried out with due regard to avoid ing compromise of the security, safety, and independence of the NGHO community at large, NGHO representatives, or public perceptions of their independence.

For NGHOs, the following guidelines should be observed:

1. NGHO personnel should not wear military-style clothing. This is not meant to preclude NGHO personnel from wearing protec tive gear, such as helmets and protective vests, provided that such items are distinguishable in color/appearance from U.S. Armed Forces issue items.
2. NGHO travel in U.S. Armed Forces vehicles should be limited to liaison personnel to the extent practical.
3. NGHOs should not have facilities co-located with facilities in habited by U.S. Armed Forces personnel.
4. NGHOs should use their own logos on clothing, vehicles, and buildings when security conditions permit.
5. NGHO personnel’s visits to military facilities/sites should be by prior arrangement.
6. Except for liaison arrangements detailed in the sections that follow, NGHOs should minimize their activities at military bases and with U.S. Armed Forces personnel of a nature that might compromise their independence.
7. NGHOs may, as a last resort, request military protection for convoys delivering humanitarian assistance, take advantage of essential logistics support available only from the military, or accept evacuation assistance for medical treatment or to evacuate from a hostile environment. Provision of such mili tary support to NGHOs rests solely within the discretion of the military forces and will not be undertaken if it interferes with higher priority military activities. Support generally will be provided on a reimbursable basis in accordance with appli cable U.S. law.'