Humanitarian Access

Humanitarian Access Overview

May 24, 2011

Headlines & Opinion


2013 & 2012





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.

UN/USAID Report Finds Inadequate Aid Contributed to Higher-than-Estimated Deaths in Somalia Famine

May 6, 2013


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.

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. 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.

STUDY: Talking to the Other Side- Humanitarian negotiations with Al-Shabaab in Somalia

January 9, 2014

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

Study: Hanging By a Thread- The Ongoing Threat to Somalia's Remittance Lifeline

February 23, 2015

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

Report: How Civil Society Engagement can help the UN Peacebuilding’s Architecture Meet its Purpose

August 7, 2015

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.

Report: Protect Humanitarian Space in Somalia

November 29, 2012

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.