Since 2005, the Civilian Military Working Group (CMWG) has served as an informal body that meets periodically to discuss policy and operational issues relevant to civilian and military personnel involved primarily in international humanitarian crises, relief and recovery.  The group also shares information about education and engagement opportunities.

group around a table

The CMWG exists to make civilian and military organizations more effective when operating in shared spaces.   

It achieves this goal this through its role in:

  • Convening. The CMWG is the recognized venue for experts to build knowledge, share information, and advance the dialogue among the humanitarian NGO community and government civilian and military agencies.
  • Consultation.  The CMWG serves as a consultative mechanism for the crisis response community to exchange expert input on doctrine, policy guidance, operational procedures, etc., which affect the operational environment during humanitarian crises, relief and recovery.
  • Communication.  This group shares good practices and lessons learned, identifies emerging issues and specific concerns, and communicates to policy makers, the training /education community and implementers.
  • Collaboration. The group also serves as forum for collaborative problem solving and prepares our respective communities to engage effectively in complex conflict prevention, response, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations.


The CMWG is open to any civilian or military organization that is involved across the spectrum of conflict affected and fragile states. The direction and priorities of the CMWG are determined by consensus of the community. Current members include a wide range of actors from the U.S. government as well as the non-governmental organization (NGO) and international organization (IO) communities.

Thought Leadership

The CMWG was created in response to the need identified by humanitarian NGOs to make a distinction between civilian and military actors and activities when both are present and operating in the same environment. As a result, in 2007, InterAction and the Department of Defense signed the Guidelines for Relations between U.S. Armed Forces and Non-Governmental Humanitarian Organizations in Hostile and Potentially Hostile Environments. In addition to being incorporated in U.S. military doctrine, these guidelines have also become a model for similar region-specific guidelines around the world. 

Additionally, the CMWG played a key role in the development of other publications – The Guiding Principles for Reconstruction and StabilizationMeasuring Progress in Conflict Environments (MPICE) and The Guide for Participants in Peace, Stability, and Relief Operations.

Meeting Topics

CMWG topics arise from participant identified community-wide problems and challenges. The style of the meeting is driven by the topic and objectives. Meetings may be primarily informational, discussion-oriented, or focused on developing a concrete product. The CMWG operates under Chatham House rules.

Examples of topics include:

  • Civilian and Military feedback to the update of the Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict
  • Brief on the development of the Humanitarian Military Operations Coordination Center (HUMOCC), a new coordination structure within the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to be utilized in humanitarian and disaster responses
  • The formulation of the Institute for Military Support to Governance
  • Civilian and military coordination within the Ebola response

Related Publications

Grading Counterterrorism Cooperation with the GCC States

Grading Counterterrorism Cooperation with the GCC States

Thursday, April 26, 2018

By: Leanne Erdberg

This testimony covers the following questions: (1) How have GCC countries addressed violent extremism and terrorism within their own national borders; (2) How have GCC countries addressed violent extremism and terrorism regionally and internationally; and, (3) What recommendations can enable future GCC efforts to go beyond eliminating today’s terrorists and prevent terrorism from emerging in the first place?

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Civilian-Military Relations; Violent Extremism

Osama Gharizi on U.S. Objectives in Syria

Osama Gharizi on U.S. Objectives in Syria

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

By: Osama Gharizi

From Lebanon, Osama Gharizi shares his analysis about the clarity of U.S. objectives after retaliatory missile strikes targeting the Assad regime’s suspected chemical weapons facilities. Gharizi says these strikes sent a signal to Assad and his allies that there are limits to U.S. and coalition intervention in Syria. In turn, these limits strengthen Russia, Turkey, and Iran’s roles as the diplomatic arbiters to negotiate a peace deal. Separately, Gharizi addresses the risks associated with the suggestion of setting up an Arab force in Syria that could create further obscurity in terms of U.S. intent and objectives versus those of Arab countries forming such a force.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Civilian-Military Relations

Ambassador Bill Taylor on the Alleged Russian Use of Chemical Weapons

Ambassador Bill Taylor on the Alleged Russian Use of Chemical Weapons

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

By: William B. Taylor

The alleged Russian use of a chemical weapon against a former Russian spy turned double agent in the United Kingdom led to scores of Russian diplomats being sent packing from the United States and Western Europe. Ambassador Taylor discusses the strong showing of unity among Western nations, and its effect on Russian intelligence gathering efforts and additional U.S. and international economic sanctions.

Civilian-Military Relations

Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers

Conflict Management Training for Peacekeepers

Friday, March 9, 2018

As peacekeeping missions continue to evolve to meet the demands of complex conflict environments, skills such as communication, negotiation, and mediation will continue to be critical in meeting the operational demands of modern peacekeeping missions, including protection of civilians (PoC) mandates, which have proliferated in the last decade.

Civilian-Military Relations

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