Community update: Civil-military coordination (June 2019): Updated guidance, climate change, epidemics, and conflict

Jules Frost
Jules Frost
Jules is an independent humanitarian consultant and expert in civil-military-police relations based in Switzerland.
Jules Frost is an humanitarian executive with 25 years of experience. Until recently, Jules was Medair’s International Director, responsible for global operations including security and crisis management. She currently is an independent consultant who advises organizations in strategy & policy development and operational guidance pertaining to engagement with state and non-state armed actors in disasters and conflict contexts. Previously, Jules served for 6 years as World Vision’s Senior Advisor for Civil-Military and Police Relations and became a leading authority. Working with UN, NATO and other armed forces, she pioneered joint-training relationships and developed operational guidelines that have influenced the humanitarian and military sectors. While co-chair for the IASC Civil-Military Relations Task Team, Jules facilitated the revision of the IASC Non-Binding Guidelines on the Use of Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys.
Community updates provide brief highlights from expert practitioners about what they see as the key developments in a specific area, what resources they would recommend, and what to look out for in the coming months.

Key developments

Convergence of protracted conflicts and changing climate

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.

Epidemics/pandemics and civil-military relations

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. 

Women, peace, and security

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?

Recommended resources

Newly updated version of the UN-CMCoord Handbook:

Challenges facing humanitarianism and principled humanitarian action:

PHAP community updates are written by members of the association and other practitioners in their personal capacity. The views expressed belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of PHAP or any other organizations with which the author is associated.