Linking Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding
[Editor's Note: In its efforts to enrich professional dialogue on contemporary challenges of humanitarian law and policy, the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research (HPCR) at Harvard University, in partnership with ATHA, invites experts in international humanitarian law, humanitarian action, and associated fields to contribute their insights to relevant discussions. We are pleased to welcome the contribution below from Masayo Kondo Rossier, one of the expert panelists at the 12 June 2012 Humanitarian Action Webcast on Peace Building and Humanitarian Engagement".]
Key capacities required for delivering humanitarian action are also frequently needed in the pursuit of peacebuilding. The findings of an ‘expert survey’ show that notwithstanding some reservations, a number of overlapping areas of work for both humanitarians and peacebuilders were identified. A generally shared view is that the ultimate goal for both actors remains sustainable peace and security.
The survey finds that humanitarian action tends to focus on immediate priorities and needs and less so on long-term peacebuilding objectives. Humanitarian actors tend to engage in a crisis with a short-term and tactical vision. On the other hand, peacebuilders frequently adopt a longer time horizon in the quest for sustainable peace and development. They often lack a sense of urgency. Humanitarians tend to resist addressing ostensibly political concerns and compromising cherished principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence. Peacebuilding actors tend to acknowledge the central role of politics and engage with its many dimensions to address core aspects of conflict and crisis.
Humanitarian action can contribute to national- and community-level peacebuilding. Contingency planning processes can be used as an entry point for a joint planning platform. Such an approach could incorporate early assessments of peacebuilding capacities and possibly formulate an action plan for capacity development that shares the vision of both humanitarian and peacebuilding organizations.