August 8, 2022

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Civilian-Military Interaction in Conflicts: Best Practices and Perceptions (Brown University)

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

Project Overview

As the need for humanitarian assistance continues to grow each year, so has the diversity of actors involved in humanitarian response. In addition to the traditional humanitarian actors, such as international non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies, national and international militaries are taking a stronger role in managing humanitarian response activities in many countries. Over the past two decades, as domestic and international militaries have become more engaged in disaster and epidemic response and as the detrimental effects of military campaigns on humanitarian actors in complex emergencies has become more apparent, there has been an increasing push at the international level for the development of guidelines and mechanisms for civilian-military coordination in humanitarian emergencies. Scant evidence-based research has been conducted into the ways that militaries and traditional humanitarian actors coordinate during the many different types of emergencies worldwide, from sudden onset disasters and epidemics to large-scale population displacement. Even less studied and understood are the perceptions held by affected populations regarding both military and humanitarian assistance during emergencies. There is a need for stronger empirical evidence to guide military doctrine and humanitarian guidelines on civilian-military coordination in conflict settings, as well as better dissemination and adoption of best practices to overcome coordination challenges. This research effort by Brown University and funded by PRM will significantly expand and deepen the understanding of civilian-military coordination across different types of humanitarian crises and aid in the development of updated evidence-based guidance for humanitarian and military actors working in close proximity in a diverse range of contexts worldwide. Brown will conduct its research in examples of epidemic response in conflict, climatological disaster in conflict, and population displacement and refugee assistance in conflict. Brown University intends to conduct its research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, and Jordan and expects to finish its research by the end of August, 2021.

Goals and Objectives

This research effort will significantly expand and deepen the understanding of civilian-military coordination across different types of humanitarian crises and aid in the development of updated evidence-based guidance for humanitarian and military actors working in a diverse range of contexts worldwide. The study will also aim to further develop new tools for evaluating community perceptions of military humanitarian assistance, which in turn would allow for practitioners, academics, and policy makers to effectively assess community perceptions of civilian and military humanitarian assistance in a variety of locations globally.

  • Development of research plan to answer identified research questions
  • Implementation of research study designs in identified locations

Dissemination of research findings to all stakeholders – donors, policymakers and practitioners – for maximum impact in future emergencies.

Source: Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

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