The success of a complex humanitarian mission depends upon cohesive linkages of diplomatic action, security operations and relief-to-development activities to achieve a desired outcome.

With its recent adoption at the United Nations World Summit, the controversial Responsibility to Protect concept brings greater significance to the issue of ‘best practices.

The ‘responsibility to protect’ rest on three pillars:

  • A primary responsibility of states to protect their own populations from the crimes of: genocide, war–crimes, ethnic–cleansing, and crimes against humanity;
  • The international community’s responsibility to assist states in meeting those internationally accepted obligations;
  •  And, the international community’s responsibility to take timely and decisive action in cases where a state has manifestly failed to protect its own population from what would appear state sanctioned crimes.

Despite the fact that, whether the Libyan intervention – seemingly thus far, effective – or whether military intervention is appropriate in other situations, a core question has emerged. “Does it [military intervention] do more harm than good?” In any event, substantial planning and cooperation between civilian and military institutions is crucial if policymakers view a civ-mil response to a crisis situation is the best option.

Our experience includes participating in initiatives to address the following issues:

  1. Planning: The goal is to assist with analysis and development of a framework that better enables government, military, humanitarian and international organizations to respond to crisis situations.
  2. Operations: The operating assumption is that the Civil–Military Operations Center (CMOC) offers a good model for an effective civ-mil structure. Critical elements such as communication and coordination, particularly at the Joint Task Force (JTF) and its civilian equivalent, would be explored.
  3. Security: The team would review the impact of an intervening force on humanitarian operations and the local populations. Appropriate roles and expectations of the military and NGOs would be reviewed, with particular focus on integration.
  4. Press/Media: The media’s influence on global crises is profound. The team would explore the dynamics of the relationships amongst the press, government and humanitarian operations.
  5. Legal Challenges: Regional or national conflicts will likely define the nature and scope of complex humanitarian emergencies. These situations raise trans–border and other legal issues that need be addressed by our team.
  6. Medical Capabilities: Complex humanitarian emergencies present enormous health challenges. The medical capabilities of the host state are often inadequate. A question that emerges is to what degree the US Military, along with civilian groups, address indigenous medical needs.
  7. Land Mines: A high percentage of peacekeepers and on local populations is due to landmine detonations. Post-conflict reconstruction is also impeded, particularly in agricultural areas. And beyond.
  8. Transition and Post–Conflict Reconstruction: Review the planning, development, coordination and adequacy of exit and transition strategies for post-conflict reconstruction. Coordinate with financial entities, including the World Bank Group, whose involvement is essential to forging peace.
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