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Podcast: Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Protection of Medical Personnel and Operations at the Frontlines

October 26, 2016

A podcast from the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA) program produced from a Middle East Initiative event on humanitarian negotiations to protect medical personnel and infrastructure on the frontlines of conflict zones on Thursday, October 6, 2016, featuring Professor Claude Bruderlein; Michael VanRooyen, Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; Chairman, Brigham and Women's Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine, Professor, Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; François Stamm, Head of Delegation for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Washington, D.C.; Adrienne Fricke, Senior Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Visiting Scientist, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Click below to listen to the podcast, hosted on the ATHA website:

Listen to the podcast (link to ATHA website)

For more on the event, visit the event page here.

More on the podcast from ATHA's website:

Recent high-profile attacks on humanitarian professionals and operations in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, among others, call attention to the growing vulnerabilities of humanitarian staff and medical operations at the frontlines. These attacks endanger lives, violate international humanitarian law, and jeopardize the effective delivery of emergency relief to populations in need. In such contexts, humanitarian organizations face difficult legal and operational challenges in reaching populations, while ensuring protection of their own staff and local partners from targeted violence. National staff members are particularly vulnerable; yet tend to receive significantly less protection. In such volatile environments, humanitarian professionals must negotiate with a variety of stakeholders to secure space and protection for humanitarian operations and infrastructure. Despite efforts build acceptance or to take protective and deterrent measures, significant gaps remain in their protection from targeted violence.

This panel discussion, organized in collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School's Middle East Initiative, will explore the opportunities and challenges of negotiating protections for medical missions at the frontline, focusing particularly on tools and methods to strengthen humanitarian operations and negotiation capacity in complex environments. The featured practitioners and experts will explore the following questions:

  • What are the main security challenges and threats facing humanitarian workers, and how do these threats affect the delivery of humanitarian assistance and protection?

  • What dilemmas arise for principled humanitarian action in difficult security environments? How can humanitarians maintain their neutrality, impartiality and independence in the face of these security challenges?

  • How does the law currently protect humanitarian professionals in insecure settings, and what gaps exist with regard to these legal protections?

  • How can humanitarian agencies ensure the protection of medical infrastructure in negotiations with counterparts, and what are the means and methods to ensure that these agreements are implemented and maintained?

  • What tools and methods are required to enhance the capacity of humanitarian professionals in negotiating medical operations, particularly in terms of mitigating risks, and ensuring implementation of programming?

  • How does the environment in which humanitarian operations take place influence the capacity and approach of humanitarian negotiations at the frontline?

For more information on this publication: Please contact Middle East Initiative
For Academic Citation:Podcast: Humanitarian Negotiation Series: Protection of Medical Personnel and Operations at the Frontlines.” News, , October 26, 2016.