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Over the past few decades, commissions of inquiry have become an increasingly prominent component of international, regional, and national responses to allegations of violations of international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) in the context of armed conflicts and internal disturbances.
The design and planning process is crucial to the implementation of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding (MRF) mechanisms geared toward investigating violations of international law, including human rights, international criminal law, and international humanitarian law. However, many disagreements exist about how MRF actors should weigh different factors in their design and planning decision-making processes.
Although their objectives may be different, governments and humanitarian organizations observe similar objects and locations when engaging in satellite monitoring.
A recent paper — “Characteristics of the Colombian armed conflict and the mental health of civilians living in active conflict zones” — published in the journal, Conflict and Health, provides a valuable analysis of the effect of armed conflict on mental health. The paper uses clinical data provided by Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) to test, as the paper states, “the prediction that more severe exposure to conflict violence would be associated with more serious psychopathy.”
Posted by Ofilio Mayorga on August 10, 2012
From April 11 to May 8, 2012, the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) at Harvard University conducted a baseline survey on the humanitarian community’s use of social media. HPCR presented the survey results during a Live Web Seminar on May 10, 2012. This blog post examines some key findings of the survey in more detail.
The recent increase in social media use across the world has enabled individuals to connect with one another through new and dynamic communication pathways. These platforms — including Twitter, Facebook, and other media-sharing networks — are also significantly affecting crisis response and humanitarian policy. The particularly acute rise in social media use in disaster-affected areas underscores the relevance of social media to humanitarian action.
[Editor's Note: In its efforts to enrich professional dialogue on contemporary challenges of humanitarian law and policy, the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) at Harvard University invites experts in international humanitarian law, humanitarian action, and associated fields to contribute their insights to relevant discussions. HPCR is pleased to welcome the contribution below from Mr. Jason Cone, Communications Director at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Posted by Rob Grace on April 19, 2012
HPCR Draft Working Paper by Rob Grace and Claude Bruderlein
This Working Paper presents HPCR’s research to date on dilemmas faced by international actors engaged in the creation and implementation of monitoring, reporting, and fact-finding (MRF) mechanisms. This Working Paper aims to provide HPCR’s analysis of the current state of MRF missions and to suggest key areas for future research and policy engagement.
The growing professionalization of the humanitarian sector and the corresponding “accountability deficit” in relief interventions has been the subject of on-going dialogue among international aid agencies and humanitarian professionals. Numerous recent initiatives — such as the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP), the Sphere Project, and the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP) — are devoted to increasing accountability standards and practices.
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This Working Paper presents HPCR’s research to date on dilemmas arising from the intersection between, on the one hand, counterterrorism laws and policies prohibiting engagement with certain non‐state entities (NSEs)1 and, on the other, humanitarian access and protection of civilians in armed conflict. This Working Paper aims to provide HPCR’s initial analysis of these dilemmas and to suggest key areas for future research and policy engagement.
This Manual provides the most up-to-date restatement of existing international law applicable to air and missile warfare, as elaborated by an international Group of Experts. As an authoritative restatement, the HPCR Manual contributes to the practical understanding of this important international legal framework.
This paper examines the relationship between the legal framework of international humanitarian law (IHL) and civil society actors operating in conflict situations. Attention is paid to assessing the manner in which the latter can play a role in strengthening the humanitarian dimension of the former. Brief introductory comments are warranted so as to situate the debate, in which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in a conflict zone are adopted as the primary unit of analysis.
Humanitarian organizations operate in increasingly hostile environments. Although authoritative statistics are scarce, anecdotal evidence suggests that aid workers face life-threatening risks that are exacerbated by the growing number of humanitarian organizations operating in the field with varying mandates, without common professional security standards and with limited success with inter-agency security coordination.