Rethinking the Humanitarian Health Response to Violent Conflict


Rethinking the Humanitarian Health Response to Violent Conflict is an effort to examine current challenges to effective humanitarian action and to develop, where necessary, new strategies for preventing civilian harm and delivering critical health services in areas plagued by violent conflict. The initiative will consist of an ongoing engagement strategy involving domestic and international policy-makers, practitioners, and scholarly audiences, including international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to help define new strategies for the effective provision of essential health services in areas of armed violence. The project includes a special focus on the creation of a transdisciplinary framework capable of integrating insights from global health sciences, international humanitarian law and humanitarian action, and political and security studies.

Primary products will include a series of publications; series of meetings involving key scholars, practitioners, and others actively concerned with the humanitarian health response to violence; along with blog posts, online videos, podcast episodes, and op-eds, both as a means to reach not only a general audience, but also local and field-based humanitarian health providers who may be beyond the reach of targeted project engagement.

The proposed initiative will consist of three major sections, each of which will include substantive engagement with a range of actors through convenings, publications, and multimedia products:

  • What is the nature and scale of the crisis? Do the current challenges represent a significant departure from earlier challenges, either in character or scale? Do the current challenges represent a crisis?

  • Why has the current crisis emerged? This section will explore the forces that are making it increasingly difficult for humanitarian health programs and workers to provide essential health services to populations in need. Of central concern is compliance with International Humanitarian Law and the Laws of War in protecting non-combatants, providing access to civilian populations in need, and the protection to humanitarian health workers and facilities.

  • How should the humanitarian health community respond? The project will aim to outline the political, legal, medical, and public health steps necessary to improve the ability of the humanitarian health community to respond to growing needs in areas of violent conflict. It will provide guidance for the affirmation of traditional strategies and the development of new approaches to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian health interventions in areas of conflict.



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