Humanitarian Health Action

GHC position paper: civil-military coordination during humanitarian health action

The Global Health Cluster’s latest position paper addresses coordination between civilian humanitarian actors and official, internationally deployed military actors involved in crisis response work. It may also serve to guide humanitarian health actors that are coordinating with national militaries within their own borders and with civil defence and civil protection units.

Over the last decade, military actors have been increasingly involved in relief activities, including sometimes providing direct assistance to crisis-affected populations. From a humanitarian perspective, this poses specific questions regarding the extent to which their involvement has a positive impact and, conversely, whether and how this involvement might affect humanitarian organizations’ ability to respond impartially to the needs of the population.

Civil-military coordination problems are particularly relevant for the health sector. Health activities have historically been part of counterinsurgency military strategies. More importantly, rehabilitating the health sector is increasingly seen as key to ensuring the country’s stability.

The paper is provisional and intended to serve as the basis for discussions with a wide range of stakeholders including health cluster partners, military representatives, civil defence and civil protection actors, and other humanitarian clusters. It may be used as the basis for similar guidance developed by other clusters.

The relation between health humanitarian actors and non-state military groups is outside the scope of this paper.

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