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

What Afghanistan Teaches Us About Evidence-Based Policy

What Afghanistan Teaches Us About Evidence-Based Policy

Thursday, December 2, 2021

By: Corinne Graff, Ph.D.

Even as the debate over the lessons learned by the U.S. government in Afghanistan continues, several clear conclusions have emerged. One is that U.S. agencies repeatedly underestimated the time and resources needed to support a nation wracked by decades of war, while they failed to follow a consistent plan for civilian recovery efforts. U.S. personnel also lacked the training needed to be successful in the field, and monitoring and evaluation efforts did not receive the policy attention required to enable course corrections and learning. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyFragility & Resilience

Ante desilusión frente a la democracia ¿Pueden las históricas elecciones de Honduras traer el cambio?

Ante desilusión frente a la democracia ¿Pueden las históricas elecciones de Honduras traer el cambio?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

Los hondureños hicieron historia el 28 de noviembre al elegir a la líder de izquierda Xiomara Castro como la primera presidenta en la historia del país. En un país plagado por inestabilidad política y polarización, los hondureños también demostraron cómo se debe transferir el poder presidencial en una democracia al recibir Castro gentilmente a su oponente conservador, quien luego emitió un comunicado pidiendo "reconciliación y unidad". El nuevo gobierno enfrenta enormes desafíos, que incluyen altas tasas de violencia criminal, corrupción endémica, inseguridad alimentaria crónica y migración irregular. Castro podría verse tentada a tomar atajos políticos y éticos para abordarlos. Pero el número récord de votantes el fin de semana pasado mostró un fuerte deseo de trabajar en los problemas del país en las urnas, no a través de la violencia o medios fuera de lo legal.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Amid Democratic Disillusionment, Can Honduras’ Historic Election Bring Change?

Amid Democratic Disillusionment, Can Honduras’ Historic Election Bring Change?

Thursday, December 2, 2021

By: Mary Speck, Ph.D.

Hondurans made history on November 28, electing leftist Xiomara Castro as the country’s first woman president. In a country plagued by political instability and polarization, Hondurans also demonstrated how presidential power should be transferred in a democracy as Castro graciously received her conservative opponent, who then issued a statement calling for “reconciliation and unity.” The new government faces enormous challenges, including high rates of criminal violence, endemic corruption, chronic food insecurity and irregular migration. Castro could be tempted to cut political and ethical corners in managing them. But the record numbers of voters last weekend showed a strong desire to work on the country’s problems at the ballot box, not through violence or extra-legal means.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Myanmar’s Ongoing War Against Women

Myanmar’s Ongoing War Against Women

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

By: Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D.;  Gabriela Sagun

When the United Nations began its annual campaign to end violence against women 30 years ago, no one had Myanmar on their radar. But in recent years, Myanmar’s military has escalated its use of sexual and gender-based violence to terrorize women and girls — most infamously against ethnic minorities, notably the Rohingya. Confronted by these atrocities, the international community has issued widespread demands for accountability and justice that have yet to come to fruition.  

Type: Analysis and Commentary

GenderHuman Rights

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