Humanitarian negotiation

Humanitarian negotiations: between a rock and a hard place
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Training type
Training category
Humanitarian negotiation

A negotiation by humanitarian aid workers is a necessary, but very difficult task. Clingendael Academy develops and conducts trainings that strengthen the capacity of aid workers in humanitarian negotiations.

Plenty of forces on the ground, both state and non-state, do not adhere to humanitarian principles and international law. The delivery of support and aid to people in need is therefore not a given: it is the result of what brave people on the ground can accomplish. But that does mean moving between unbreakable principles and opportunistic wishes, between doing what is right and what is achievable.

Our training includes participants in all levels of the humanitarian aid process. Humanitarian negotiations do not only play out in the heat of the moment at a road checkpoint before entering a beleaguered city, but has ramifications throughout the aid supply chain. Headquarters, regional offices, donors, the general public, everybody and all have an opinion of negotiating with armed groups.

On top of that other organisations in the field are negotiating as well, but because of the sensitivities involved and the confidentiality of it, the humanitarian organisations do not know from one another -sometimes not even within a single organisation.

This combination leads to a situation in which humanitarian negotiations are not well prepared – not on the strategic level nor on a personal level. Increasingly the sector itself is stepping up its efforts to better understand what humanitarian negotiations are all about and to disseminate new insights, practices and information. The largest humanitarian organisations in the world have started a Centre of Competence based in Geneva.

Clingendael Academy, supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offers a training programme to support the fledging work done by the sector. Within this programme, we:

  • Train humanitarian staff in the negotiation techniques specifically tailored to their own context and situation through field missions;
  • Train strategic planners and decision-makers of humanitarian organisations in strategy and influence around humanitarian negotiations;
  • Train humanitarian mediators.

For more information, please have look here.