One of the more regrettable developments in international relations in recent years has been the intentional targeting of humanitarian relief organizations, and all the complexities that derive from that. Sometimes, aid groups are presented with difficult choices between accepting protection from an army – and, in so doing, losing part of their claim to neutrality – or disengaging from a conflict zone in which they could otherwise do a lot of good.
Edwina Thompson, a friend of mine from Oxford, has written a report on the problem for World Vision International: Principled Pragmatism: NGO engagement with armed actors. To those interested in armed conflict and humanitarian assistance, it is worth taking a look at.
In the concluding section, the report identifies existing gaps in efforts to manage civilian-military relations. It also provides recommendations to the international community, donors, and NGOs.