Mitigating Conflict: The Role of NGOs

Mitigating Conflict: The Role of NGOs

Mitigating Conflict: The Role of NGOs

Mitigating Conflict: The Role of NGOs


Drawing upon the writings of academics and activists this collection explores the roles that have emerged for NGOs as they have engaged more with peacekeeping and peacebuilding initiatives in various locations around the world.


Charlotte Ku and Joaquín Cáceres Brun

The emergence of humanitarian operations whose purpose is to protect victim populations in addition to aiding them is presently challenging the well-established and practised principle of neutrality embedded in international humanitarian law. As a leader in the development and practice of international humanitarian law, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is deeply associated with the principle of neutrality in its assistance and relief operations. But maintaining this practice of neutrality has become controversial within the humanitarian assistance and relief community, with some organizations implying that maintaining neutrality in instances of gross violations of human rights is tantamount to complicity with those violations. the charges go further to suggest that the practice of neutrality may stand in the way of a permanent and just political solution in a humanitarian crisis. Why then does the icrc maintain its tradition of neutrality and what contribution does this practice continue to make in today's complex relief operations and peace processes? Can neutrality remain a viable practice in the conflicts and emergencies of the twenty-first century where states may pursue policies of gross violations of human rights against their own people including the elimination of whole groups?

Four episodes of perceived failure to protect victimized populations from the actions of their own governments have caused the international community to reconsider the nature of conflict and to blur the lines between military and humanitarian operations. the four episodes specifically responsible for the conceptual and political shift in the scope of international security are:

Somalia (1992-93) where military forces initially asked to deliver food assistance ended up undertaking a military operation with inadequate preparation and planning, resulting not only in the failure of the missions, but also the loss of soldiers' lives.

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