Headlines & Opinion
- UN Humanitarian Chief Warns of Chilling Impact Created by Counterterror Meausres in Syria
- Bill Aims to Promote Medical Neutrality, Impose Penalties on Violators
2013 & 2012
- Humanitarian Access to Syrians Must be Respected by Assad and the U.S.
- UN Officials and NGO Leader Urge Changes to Counterterrorism Measures that Harm Humanitarian Action
- State Department Calls for Acceess to Civilians, Respect for IHL in Syria
- CSN Blog: Addressing the Potential Impact of Legal Restrictions on Organizations Providing Humanitarian Assistance in Syria
- State Dept Calls for Access to Civilians, Respect for IHL in Syria
- Somalia Famine Death Toll Higher than Estimated, Inadequate Aid Among Factors
- Access Barriers Mean Aid Trickling into Syrian Opposition-Controlled Territory
- Holding Armed Groups Accountable
- USAID, Treasury Plan Audits of Programs Related to PVS, Somalia Aid, and OFAC’s License Database
- Senate Appropriations Report Requires Treasury/USAID to Address Barriers to Disaster Response
- Crises in Africa Showcase Complexity of Humanitarian Access in Conflict Zones
- The Hill: How to Help Somalia by Gabor Rona of Human Rights First and Kay Guinane of CSN
- U.S. Senators Call For Reforming Laws that Impede Humanitarian Assistance in Somalia
- Counterterrorism Regulations and Humanitarian Access to the Famine in Somalia
- Al Shabaab and Somalia's Spreading Famine
- State Department Releases New Policy to Allow Famine Aid to Somalia, Treasury Department Releases Limited Guidance
- The President Must Address Life and Death Policy Matters in Somalia
- US to Ease Anti-Terrorism Rules to Help Somali Famine Victims
- Anti-Terror Law Hinders Aid Efforts to Somalia
- Mercy Corps’ Jeremy Konyndyk: Will the US Stand by as Famine Looms in Somalia?
- Index Guages Quality og Humanitarian Assitance of Relief and Recovery
- Now is a Good Time for a Good Faith Standard
- IN-DEPTH: Legal Roadblocks for US Famine Relief to Somalia Creating Humanitarian Crisis
- Section by Section Summary: Humanitarian Assistance Facilitation Act
- Negotiating for Aid Delivery in Mali
Feb. 22, 2012 telebriefing on Somalia featuring Allan Jury, Director of the U.S. Relations Office for the World Food Programme and Vincent Cochetel, Regional Representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Audio file & transcript available here.
Aug. 10, 2011 telebriefing on Somalia featuring Eric D. Johnson, Associate General Counsel at CARE USA, and Kay Guinane. Audio file & Transcript available here.
- OFAC: Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Private Relief Efforts in Somalia
- State Dept: Aug 2011 Press Briefing on Humanitarian Aid to the Horn of Africa
- The Impact of Counterterrorism Measures on Charities and Donors After 9/11 (Printable handout)
- State Dept: Aug 2011 Background Briefing on Somalia and Delivery of Humanitarian Assistance
- Brookings: Barriers to Access During Humanitarian Crisis
- MSF: Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed
- Sphere Handbook for Humanitarian Responders
- Talking to the Other Side - Humanitarian Negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia
- Counterterrorism Measures Stifle Humanitarian Action, by UN OCHA and the NRC
- CRS: Syria Overview of the Humanitarian Response
- UN/USAID: Inadequate Aid Contributed to Higher-than_Estimated Deaths in Somalia Famine
- Protect Humanitarian Space in Somalia
- Report Focuses on Facilitating Principled Humanitarian Action
- ODI: Why Militaries and NGOs Interact to Protect Civilians
- Paper: IHL and IHRL Work Together to Protect Rights of Civilians
- ODI: Negotiating Humanitarian Access
- Deadly Combination: Disaster, Conflict and the U.S. Material Support Law
- ODI: Humanitarian Action Harmed by Anti-Terror Laws
- Oxfam: Military Policy in Somalia Has Failed
- Humanitarian Space Under Fire in Somalia (DARA)
- Save the Children & Oxfam: Inaction and Delayed Response to Famine Cost Thousands of Lives
- Humanitarian Forum: 10 Ways the International Community Can Address Somalia's Crisis
- Security Measures that Restrict Humanitarian Access Hurt Vulnerable Civilians
- Oxfam Report Finds that Lack of Access Leaves Civilians Vulnerable
- Report: Lack of Access Leaves Civilians Vulnerable
- Report: More Aid Reduces Terrorism Threat in Horn of Africa
- Report: "Freind Not Foe" Documents Negative Impacts of Counterterrorism Measures, Calls on Civil Society to Defend Positive Role
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.
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.”
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.
A drastic reduction in humanitarian assistance, widespread conflict and drought combined to make the 2011 famine in Somalia the most deadly in the past 25 years, a May 2013 study finds. Commissioned by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSnet), the study estimates that between October 2010 and April 2012, nearly five percent of the region's population and 10 percent of its children died because of severe food shortages. The presence of al-Shabab, a group on the U.S. terrorist list, in famine affected areas made legal restrictions an issue for aid groups.
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. It identifies policy issues the situation raises Congress, including the level of funding, whether aid should be “branded” as coming from the U.S., given the safety problems such a move would create for people on the ground.
Published by the Humanitarian Policy Group in December 2013, Talking to the Other Side –Humanitarian Negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia is an in-depth study that sheds light on dynamics and details of negotiations between aid organizations and Al-Shabaab, primarily between 2008 and the famine of 2011. It provides historical context to the impossible choices facing aid agencies and details how both Al-Shabaab and the actions of donor government
On Feb. 19, 2015, Adeso, the Global Center on Cooperative Security and Oxfam, released Hanging by a Thread: The Ongoing Threat to Somalia’s Remittance Lifeline, which details how bank account closures impact many Somalians who depend on remittances, in order to fulfill basic survival needs and invest in small businesses. Remittances are handled by Money Transfer Operations (MTOs) who rely on banks to transfer the funds internationally. Due to the poor financial regulation, the presence of terrorist-listed groups in Somalia and a strict regulatory environment, several principle banks have closed their accounts with MTOs that serve Somalia, essentially, curtailing the flow of remittances sent by family members to help Somalians overseas. In response to public pressure and collective campaigns, the U.S. government has taken modest steps to help the Somali remittance system, but it is “startlingly unprepared to manage the potential fallout” of account closures. In Australia and the United Kingdom the response has also be slow. This report notes that failure to uphold the remittance system could result in black market and illegal money transfer systems that would increase the lack of accountability for transfer operators. It suggests practical steps that governments and actors within the international community should take to sustain the Somali money transfer system as well as the long-term solutions required to establish viable financial institutions within Somalia. The report is a follow up to the 2013 report Keeping the Lifeline Open: Remittances and Markets in Somalia.
In April 2015, the Quaker United Nations Group and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict released a report titled How Civil Society Engagement can help the UN Peacebuilding’s Architecture Meet its Purpose. In addition to reviewing the UN’s Peacebuilding Architecture (PBA), the report explains how civil society is a vital link to the UN peacebuilding efforts as it helps the UN better understand the people and communities they serve.
Lack of access to Somalis in need was not only an obstacle to alleviating the extreme food shortages in Somalia but also a contributing factor in creating the crisis, according to an April 2012 report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The authors argue that the political landscape in the conflict-ravaged country has become so complex and tainted that restrictions imposed on aid delivery have made it difficult for humanitarian actors to respond impartially and proportionately to the enormous need. As a result, assistance has been limited to a handful of places, and responding to the threats facing the most vulnerable civilians have been inadequate. The combination of drought, escalating food prices, and nearly twenty years of conflict have left millions of Somalis displaced and in need of life-saving assistance.