A new risk management toolkit, launched by NRC today, contains examples of practical steps to help address main challenges and risks associated with counterterrorism measures, focusing on situations of armed conflict.
On December 16th, NRC launched a risk management toolkit in relation to counterterrorism measures. It aims to increase the understanding of the potential impact of counterterrorism measures, on principled humanitarian action.
While not designed to provide legal advice for humanitarian organisations, the toolkit is a reference tool for policy and decision-makers. It draws on ideas, methods and procedures, being used by a number of national and international NGOs and UN agencies, in countries such as Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Turkey and Kenya.
“Too often, humanitarian needs are greatest in areas where there are non-state armed groups, designated as terrorists. This adds to the complexity of challenges, facing humanitarian actors in already very challenging environments,” observes Ingrid MacDonald, Director of Humanitarian Policy, NRC Geneva at NRC and one of the toolkit’s writers. “We hope this resource will help humanitarian actors to align their risk management procedures related to counterterrorism within the wider framework of humanitarian principles.’’
A growing body of counterterrorism measures are impacting principled humanitarian action. These present a variety of criminal and contractual risks for humanitarian organisations. Examining counterterrorism measures in several countries, a joint 2013 study on donors’ counterterrorism measures, commissioned by NRC and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, concluded that such measures were limiting humanitarian funding sources, stalling project implementation, and encouraging a climate of self-censorship by humanitarian organisations.
“Providing explicit support, or endorsing an armed group, contravenes basic humanitarian principles. As such, humanitarian organisations have been strengthening and implementing risk management procedures to address concerns about aid diversion and protection to affected populations and staff,” says MacDonald. “This toolkit builds on this work, through the lens of humanitarian principles. Many of these measures can be strengthened and applied to mitigate the possibility of diversion of aid to armed groups who are designated as terrorists.”
Key approaches considered by the toolkit include the use of codes of conduct due to diligence, human resource and anti-diversion policies - as well as monitoring and evaluation procedures. Counterterrorism clauses in partnership agreements, a typical area of concern for humanitarian organisations, are also included.