August 17, 2021 at 9:11 pm #5276August 17, 2021 at 11:58 pm #5308
There’s a lot of (too much?) detail in the Sphere Handbook. Your thoughts on this. I find it’s a really handy document to have a hard copy of, and you can oder this from Practical Action.August 26, 2021 at 11:37 pm #5339
Following our Zoom discussion on the 25th August (Humanitarian standards & Codes of Conduct), Mark (NZ) share an article in the New Humanitarian entitle ‘Choosing sides: Five local takes on aid neiutrality in Myanmar’. This challenges the Red Cross principles of Neutrality, which also are a key component of the CHS. Your thoughts on this?August 27, 2021 at 2:18 am #5341
This article is so interesting, It really does seem in the case of Myanmar to be counterproductive to be neutral as it appears they aren’t seen as neutral by not saying anything anyway and that by doing nothing they are letting the problem continue. But if they take sides then they wouldn’t be allowed there. Such a conflicting situation! It was also interesting to hear the perspective on local aid workers on the international power play and their inability to do anything when it came to their own country because they were restricted by International powers and the donor countries on their freedom to voice opinions. That would be hard to do especially in your own country.September 15, 2021 at 4:40 am #5440
This is a really complicated situation. On the one hand, the principle of neutrality is enshrined in the guidelines of organisations such as UNOCHA and the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The first principle in the codes of conduct outlined in annexe 2 of the Sphere handbook describes the primacy of the humanitarian imperative and that when aid is given based on this, it is not a partisan or political act. In this way, the delivery of aid supersedes the political circumstances of the affected place and by remaining neutral, there is a greater potential to deliver aid than if the organisations giving aid appeared (to the ruling powers in the affected area) to be political in any way. At the same time, Myanmar nationals working with aid agencies are pointing out the problems of this in relation to the military junta. From the article, it’s evident that the junta is central to the overlapping crises in Myanmar and some are questioning how helpful aid agencies are being if they legitimize the junta by not taking a stand against it. Moreover, since the coup, the junta has blocked international and local aid in certain areas, which violates the rights of affected people to receive humanitarian assistance as set out in the Humanitarian Charter.
I think that it is important to remain neutral. I understand that its easy to say that when the injustices don’t affect me, and that I couldn’t properly understand just how bad it is without having the same experiences as those who are affected by the junta, but I also think it’s important for aid organisations to maintain their central role in providing assistance to communities and people affected by crises. If aid organisations were perceived to be political it could prevent them from being on the ground altogether and this would lead to a worst-case scenario where there would be affected people, under the junta, without international aid assistance.
At the same time, I think there is some scope for re-evaluating how funds are allocated. From the article, Hnin Thet Hmu Khin made the appeal for more support to local NGOs and communities in order to increase their capacity. Doing so would be in accordance with commitment 3 of the Core Humanitarian Standard which aims to strengthen local capacities and therefore does not step into the realm of politics.
JohnSeptember 18, 2021 at 4:31 am #5449
Hi all, I came across this article this morning which reflects a similar dilemma to the New Humanitarian article:
JohnSeptember 18, 2021 at 9:16 pm #5454
Thank you, John, for both these articles. Aid, whether this be development or humanitarian, is really tricky in these situations. We’ll be giving an update of the Afghanistan humamanitarian situation when we introduce Complex Emergencies/Crises on Wed 29th Sept.
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