Toolkit: Responding to Violence against Humanitarian Action on the Policy Level
Rationale and methods to share information, speak out, and challenge impunity in cases of violence against humanitarian action
ATHA is pleased to share a new professional Toolkit for Responding to Attacks against Humanitarian Action on the Policy Level. The purpose of the Toolkit is to offer guidance to humanitarian actors for responding to violence against humanitarian action, in order to promote a more protective environment for the provision of humanitarian aid to civilians.
Violence against humanitarian action poses an increasingly critical challenge for the delivery of assistance and protection in complex environments. Attacks against humanitarian actors and operations, including healthcare missions, endanger lives, violate international norms, and jeopardize the effective delivery of emergency assistance to populations in need. Such attacks also pose an acute operational dilemma between humanitarian organizations’ ability to maintain access to populations in need, and their ability to ensure the safety and security of their staff. While humanitarian organizations find practical, field-based ways to “cope” with such contexts, however, these adaptations often fail to address the overall deteriorating environment for humanitarian action, or the prevailing impunity for such violations.
In response to practitioners’ strongly identified need for inter-agency dialogue and capacity building on professional practices related to the protection of humanitarian action, ATHA has been engaging in original research, convening advanced practitioner discussions, and developing professional tools and materials.
The Toolkit was produced as part of these efforts, through a series of consultations in 2017-2018 with members of the Working Group on Protection of Humanitarian Action, an initiative gathering more than 20 partners and organized by ATHA and Action contre la Faim (ACF). The Working Group aims to mobilize a community of practice and foster cooperation through peer-to-peer professional exchange and information sharing, research, and advocacy. Members of the Working Group involved in producing this Toolkit include representatives from ATHA, ACF, CARE International, the Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health, and the European Interagency Security Forum (EISF), in consultation with other leading international and humanitarian organizations.
Focusing on the aftermath of serious incidents of violence against humanitarian action, the Toolkit offers guidance on a range of response options for humanitarian agencies and practitioners, in particular with regard to three critical areas: sharing information; speaking out in safety; and challenging impunity. These options are meant to highlight possible and complementary responses to incidents of violence against humanitarian action. It contains resources and templates to help country directors; regional directors and desks; security managers; communications officers; as well as advocacy, policy, and legal staff – at global and field levels – make informed decisions about whether and how to share information, speak out, and challenge impunity in cases of violence against humanitarian action. It aims to complement and strengthen operational and security responses and facilitate the development of more effective and coordinated policies geared toward addressing this issue.