Humanitarian Access Overview

May 24, 2011


Headlines & Opinion


2013 & 2012





Survey: Counterterrorism Laws Impede Aid Delivery in Syria

Delivering humanitarian aid in Syria is more difficult because Western counterterrorism laws have forced aid organizations to avoid communities controlled by extremist groups. Consequently, vulnerable populations are more at greater risk of radicalization, a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation found. 

In addition, government donors and banks are requesting more in-depth audits since ISIS took control, adding time and cost to humantarian missions in Syria. According to the Syrian NGO alliance, a consortium of 90 NGOs working in the country, organizations have been forced to cancel projects because they could not keep up with the additional paperwork. 

Data from the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey revealed that the bureaucratic workload had risen by an average of 7,000 extra man hours per charity in the two years since ISIS had taken root, the equivalent of three full-time staff. One charity said the cost of compliance reporting had doubled since March 2014.

Read the full story here

Paper: IHL and IHRL Work Together to Protect Rights of Civilians

July 24, 2012

International human rights law (IHRL), recognized by treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international humanitarian law (IHL), which applies to armed conflict situations, share the responsibility of protecting the economic, social and cultural rights of people caught in an armed conflict, says a June 2012 paper published in the Electronic Journal of International Studies (REEI). After World War II, IHRL and IHL were initially treated as two distinct bodies of law, applicable in different situations.

Paper: International Humanitarian Law Primary Means of Protecting Civilians

December 11, 2012

A September 2012 paper in the Asia-Pacific Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law  explores the distinction and relationship between the protection of civilians in armed conflict under international humanitarian law and by the use of force under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. It demonstrates that, while the Security Council has increasingly authorized the use of force to protect civilians in armed conflict, international humanitarian law “remains the principal means of protecting civilians in armed conflict.”

ODI: Negotiating Humanitarian Access

July 9, 2012

Even in hostile operating environments humanitarian actors engage with armed non-state actors (ANSAs) to negotiate access to civilians in order to alleviate suffering and improve the protection, says a June 2012 policy paper from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Identifying the obstacles to and opportunities for humanitarian dialogue with ANSAs, Talking to the other side: Humanitarian engagement with armed non-state actors, finds restrictions created by counterterrorism measures have been “distinctly damaging to humanitarian action” in places like Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan. The report’s authors call for increased support in facilitating productive humanitarian dialogue with ANSAs from donor states and the United Nations.

CRS Study: Syria Overview of the Humanitarian Response

September 11, 2013

The study, written by Rhoda Margesson, Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy and Susan G. Chesser, Information Research Specialist, was published on Sept. 4, 2013. It provides a thorough summary of the impact the conflict in Syria has had on the civilian population, the U.S. government’s contribution to humanitarian aid efforts and the international response.