Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN
Today, climate-related disasters account for more than 90 percent of the world’s disasters and affect the greatest number of people. The number of protracted crises has grown tenfold since 2011. Thus the likelihood of natural disasters taking place in conflict contexts is increasing. Increasing security concerns are bound to test the degree to which humanitarians uphold the core humanitarian principles. Are we prepared? When operating in such complex environments and deciding if and how to coordinate or whether to solely aim for co-existence with military actors – what compromises will we make and at what cost? A review of past coordination strategies could help inform improved future strategies.
Strategic and operational gaps exist that will hinder effective humanitarian civ-mil coordination in response to pandemics. There is a critical lack of preparedness and response planning for pandemics in conflict or non-permissive environments. Given unprecedented migration and displacement, the increasing protracted nature of conflicts and the contested discourse on global health engagement, humanitarian, global health, and military actors should prioritize further dialogue, preparedness planning/exercising, and identification of good practices.
The Australian Civil-Military Center in April 2019 launched a free introductory online learning program on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). It is a self-guided program intended for anyone who has an interest in the WPS agenda. Several militaries and some in the humanitarian community are seeking to understand more fully the role and importance of gender in disaster response. Perhaps this agenda can be an entry point for improved humanitarian civil-military coordination?