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Helpdesk Research Report: The impact of integrated missions on humanitarian operations

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The impact of integrated missions on humanitarian operations: What is the evidence on the impact of integrated UN missions on the conduct of humanitarian operations? Specifically look at impact on the protection of civilians, humanitarian access and the security of humanitarian agencies, and the perception of humanitarian organisations by warring parties.

Helpdesk response

Key findings

Evidence remains scarce, problematic and contested. There is at least limited agreement on the following:

•Integration has had both negative and positive effects. Effects vary by individual actor, type of actor (UN agencies are more affected) and contexts (mission, country, point in time).

•Protection of civilians: Possible positive impacts: shared objectives leading to action (e.g. DRC); successful advocacy for protection (e.g. Afghanistan, Somalia, DRC, Liberia, CAR). Negative impacts: UN reluctance to speak out and weak advocacy, due to proximity to some perpetrators (e.g. Somalia, DRC, Afghanistan); jeopardised information-sharing on protection.

•Access is context- and agency-specific. While integration has sometimes facilitated access (e.g. Afghanistan, DRC, Somalia), it often seems to have impeded it, especially where international actors are aligned with one side (e.g. Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Darfur, Afghanistan). UN security management creates major hurdles.

•Humanitarian security does not appear to be directly impacted. Correlations vary from country to country. Contexts where the UN takes political or military sides seem high-risk (e.g. Afghanistan, DRC, Somalia). UN security strategy does not rely enough on acceptance. On a few occasions, in the DRC, Darfur and Liberia, integration was beneficial.

•Local perceptions of humanitarian operations: where the UN supports the state, peace agreements or elections which have little local credibility, associated actors may not be viewed as neutral and impartial (e.g. DRC, Afghanistan).

•There are both positive and negatives impacts on international policy, the humanitarian system and country-level dynamics.

Additional approaches include learning from longer-term history, taking responsibility for a positioning and enhancing the analysis.