Developed in concert with the Department of Defense and Interaction (the umbrella organization for major American humanitarian non-governmental organizations), these guidelines address how the US military and US non-governmental organizations should behave towards each other in non-permissive environments like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Facilitated by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Guidelines seek to mitigate frictions between military and NGO personnel over the preservation of humanitarian space in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Principles in the Guidelines include ensuring that military personnel wear uniforms when conducting relief activities to avoid being mistaken for nongovernmental humanitarian organization representatives. Conversely, it recommends that, to the extent practical, humanitarian relief personnel avoid traveling in U.S. Armed Forces vehicles, with the exception of liaison personnel.

The heads of both the U.S. military and InterAction (an umbrella organization for U.S. NGOs) have endorsed the Guidelines and will be disseminating them throughout their organizations. Two years in the making, the effort represents "a desire from both sides to move beyond polemics to proactive problem solving," said Jeb Nadaner, deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations at the Pentagon.

NGO leaders likewise expressed optimism at the potential for change. "We do not want to understate the importance of this document for us," said Sam Worthington, InterAction president and CEO. "We believe that these Guidelines will serve a purpose beyond U.S. NGOs to our global partners."

The initiative was launched in March 2005 when Ambassador Carlos Pascual, coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization at the U.S. State Department, asked the Institute to establish a Working Group on Civil-Military Relations in Nonpermissive Environments. What began as a dialogue between military and NGO leaders has resulted in a pioneering effort upon which both sides hope to expand. Military and NGO leaders intend to promulgate the Guidelines throughout their communities via media and education channels: NGOs will publish the Guidelines in their newsletters and literature; the military will incorporate the Guidelines into joint military doctrine publications. The next challenge lies in implementing the Guidelines in the field and creating a monitoring process by which the Guidelines can be continuously updated and revised.

Latest Publications

Johnny Walsh on Election Season in Afghanistan

Johnny Walsh on Election Season in Afghanistan

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

By: Johnny Walsh

As Afghans wait for official results from the parliamentary polls, Johnny Walsh says that the country is already entering “high political season” in preparation for the critical April 2019 presidential election. Although the Taliban continues to carry out high-profile attacks across the country, Walsh says that many Afghans are focused on the presidential polls and its implications for the peace process.

Democracy & Governance

Providing for the Common Defense

Providing for the Common Defense

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

By: National Defense Strategy Commission

The final report of the National Defense Strategy Commission is a compilation of the assessments of the National Defense Strategy and recommendations based on its analysis related not just to defense strategy, but also to the larger geopolitical environment in which that strategy must be executed. They consulted with civilian and military leaders in the Department of Defense, representatives of other U.S. government departments and agencies, allied diplomats and military officials, and independent experts.

Global Policy

Thomas Hill on Libya

Thomas Hill on Libya

Friday, November 9, 2018

By: Thomas M. Hill

Since the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, successive U.S. administrations have watched Libya’s continuing collapse, mistakenly believing that the country’s unraveling threatens only Europe, says Thomas Hill. Ahead of the Palermo conference, which aims to find a solution to the crisis in Libya, Hill says that United States’ should play a more direct role in stabilizing the country.

Democracy & Governance; Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Libya’s Migrant Crisis Isn’t Just a European Problem

Libya’s Migrant Crisis Isn’t Just a European Problem

Friday, November 9, 2018

By: Thomas M. Hill; Emily Estelle

Next week, Italy will host an international conference intended to finally bring Libya’s bloody seven-year conflict toward resolution. Since the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, successive U.S. administrations have watched Libya’s continuing collapse, believing that the country’s unraveling threatens only Europe. This is a mistake.

Fragility & Resilience

Nigeria’s Worst Violence Is Not Boko Haram

Nigeria’s Worst Violence Is Not Boko Haram

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

By: Ena Dion; Isioma Kemakolam

As Nigeria works to stabilize from years of warfare in its north, the deadliest threat is not the Boko Haram extremist movement, but escalating battles between farming and herding communities over scarce land and water. Bloodshed has increased since January, as armed groups have attacked and...

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

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