This guidance note aims to assist humanitarian actors in determining in which military events to participate. It sets out the type of events humanitarian actors are often invited to, the potential benefits and challenges of participation, and suggests criteria for assessing when and under what conditions to attend.
At the direction of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Principals, the IASC Task Team on Revitalizing Principled Humanitarian Action conducted a review of the impact of United Nations (UN) integration on humanitarian action. The review covered all applicable 18 integrated settings—defined as settings where a UN Country Team (UNCT) coexists with a UN peacekeeping operation (PKO) or special political mission (SPM).
This report documents the entire spectrum of experiences that humanitarian actors raised in the course of this review as far as they relate to UN integration, but it does not explore broader concerns regarding the functioning of humanitarian action. While the recorded views do not necessarily represent the positions of the Task Team members or individual agencies, they do reflect the experiences, observations, and concerns of a wide range of humanitarian personnel across integrated settings. In particular, the review looked at implementation of the UN Integrated Assessment and Planning (IAP) Policy.
The humanitarian community’s engagement with governments will almost always include interaction with national militaries. The level and degree of interaction will largely be dependent on the type of mission the military performs. In most natural hazard-prone countries, national militaries act as the primary arm of the government, tasked to immediately respond to the humanitarian impact of natural disasters. National militaries offer distinct capability, can rapidly mobilize and deploy, and fill capacity gaps as needed. Generally, professional armed forces have genuine concern in helping their fellow citizens affected by natural disasters. They will be there and will do something about the situation. Given this reality, humanitarian actors are expected to interact with them in these types of scenarios where there are no or very few sensitive issues.
In conflict-induced humanitarian emergencies where national militaries are involved in the conflict as a belligerent force, the interaction with national militaries is almost exclusively delimited to preserving and protecting the humanitarian operating environment, protection of civilians and ensuring access.