Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS)

Civilian-Military Humanitarian Coordination


Negotiating Humanitarian Access and Civil Military Coordination in Burkina Faso, Haiti, and Ethiopia: Key Challenges and Lessons Learned

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the growing number of conflicts, global humanitarian need has reached its highest level in decades. An estimated 274 million people worldwide will require emergency aid and protection in 2022, representing a 17 percent increase from 2021. At the same time as humanitarian needs have been growing, humanitarian space has been shrinking. In many complex emergencies around the globe, states and non-state actors have limited access to vulnerable populations in need, while direct and indirect targeting of aid workers is on the rise. In collaboration with the World Food Programme, this research effort deepens and expands the understanding of the critical role civilian-military coordination plays during humanitarian responses in contexts with restricted access. It will aid in the development of evidence-based research to document best practices and key challenges in both manmade and natural disasters where either state governments or NSAGs (or both) have historically blocked external aid. Learn More >

Afghan Evacuee Experiences of Operation Allies Refuge and Operation Allies Welcome

In partnership with the Providence-based Refugee Dream Center, this project will document the personal experiences of Afghan civilians who worked with the US military in Afghanistan, and who experienced the evacuation from Kabul. This research project will serve two purposes: 1) to better understand civilian perceptions of working with the US military in a warzone, and 2) to evaluate the immediate needs of this population for successful resettlement in the US. Learn more >

Civil-Military-Police Coordination During National Responses to COVID-19

This research project aims to conduct a comparative examination of civil-military-police responses during COVID-19 in Australia, United States and New Zealand. The project contributes evidence to a field where relationships, roles and responsibilities, and leadership structures have historically formed through necessity rather than through an institutionalised approach. This project is funded through generous support from the Australian Government's Civil-Military Centre. Learn More >

Civil-Military What?! Making Sense of Competing Civil-Military Relations Concepts

A wide array of national, regional, and international institutions have created their own concepts to guide interactions, coordination, and relations between military and civilian actors in a variety of conflict and peace settings. The end result of these efforts is a myriad of similar yet slightly differing concepts being created, each specifically tailored to its parent entity, but often different enough to cause significant misunderstandings and misconceptions when compared to each other. This research project aims to help practitioners, decision-makers, analysts, and scholars better understand and navigate the varying conceptual frameworks for civil-military relations used by different organizations and in different contexts. Learn more >

Climate and Security International Network

This project aims at deepening the structuring of the community already fostered by the climate change and coastal hazard working group by assessing and mapping existing projects on climate change response by humanitarian groups, civ-mil cooperation research teams and the military. It intends to strengthen existing yet scattered research on the impacts of climate change and proposes to structure a research network on the analysis of civilian-military cooperation in climate change responses, including military interventions, and the securitization of environmental agendas in international organizations. 

Civilian-Military Interaction in Conflicts: Best Practices and Perceptions

This research effort which is led by CHRHS in collaboration with the U.S. Naval War College, is fully funded by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Through research conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, and Jordan, this study aims to significantly expand and deepen the understanding of civilian-military coordination across different types of humanitarian crises and aid in the development of updated evidence-based guidance for humanitarian and military actors working in close proximity in a diverse range of contexts worldwide. More >

Civilian-Military Coordination in Humanitarian Response: Expanding the Evidence Base

This collaborative project between CHRHS and the U.S. Naval War College’s Humanitarian Response Program, supported by a two-year grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, seeks to expand the evidence-base for effective civilian-military coordination in humanitarian response while developing new avenues for information sharing between humanitarian, military, and academic communities. More >

U.S. Policy Roadmap for Meeting the Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR) Challenge During Great Power Competition

This paper proposes a policy roadmap for U.S. decision-makers that steers the HA/DR aspect of the strategic competition with China towards a positive outcome.  The PRC is expanding its global interests, significantly growing its HA/DR resources and experience, and demonstrating increasing interest in projecting influence through humanitarian operations. The PRC’s emergence represents a significant opportunity for the positive advancement of global HA/DR capabilities. However, the PRC is also demonstrating a trend of disregarding established international humanitarian principles that could have serious implications for the future if they remain unchallenged.  Given that HA/DR operations often sit at the competitive seam between the PRC and the U.S., these operations carry outsize risk and require careful thought and preparation.  Building on their 2021 study, “China and the Future of HA/DR Operations in Great Power Competition,” the authors (Robin Watters (U.S Naval War College affiliated expert and retired U.S. Navy rear admiral) and Alexander Triplett (U.S. Army Major)) answer the obvious question that the first paper raised … what do you do about it? 

Humanitarian Leadership in Urban Communities: An Exploratory Study on the Role of Community Leaders in Humanitarian Coordination during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Philippines

Lead by the Urbanization Working Group, this qualitative study in the Philippines will document the narratives of community leaders in three of the National Capital Region's most densely populated cities. This study will explore the lived experiences of local leaders who have participated in bridging the implementation of quarantine policies from the national and local government to their communities. More specifically, this study will inquire on the extent of their 1) engagement with national-level humanitarian actors, 2) typologies of humanitarian activities they engaged in, 3) the contexts that motivated their decision-making for humanitarian activities, and 4) their perceived gaps in humanitarian efforts by civil-military actors during this pandemic.

Civil-Military Engagement During Public Health Emergencies: A Comparative Analysis of Local Responses to COVID-19

Lead by the Outbreaks Working Group, the aim of this research is to document and compare the various means and mechanisms by which militaries have responded to the COVID-19 crisis globally, with a view to identifying generalisable lessons learned to the extent possible. The research team will conduct a desk review of available literature to identify and typologize how domestic militaries have responded to COVID-19 around the world, followed by an analysis of the modalities of assistance to civilian response efforts, impacts, challenges/advantages in implementation, and opportunities/disadvantages of each response type.

Civil-Military Climate Change Issues: Setting the Agenda and Developing the Discourse

Lead by the Climate Change and Resilience Working Group this project has been designed as a response to the urgent need to better understand the problem, scope and impact of climate change with respect to military, civilian and humanitarian actors. Its objective is to develop a broad agenda-setting statement, including key terminology for civil-military climate change issues. This work will contribute towards the better understanding of the scope, language and context of climate change and the central issues that surround it as well identifying implications for humanitarian organizations, policy makers, militaries, government bodies and response strategists/modelers.

Enhancing Sustainable Humanitarian Response Through the Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination Framework

Lead by the Climate Change and Resilience Working Group, this research investigates the environmental impact of humanitarian response and how humanitarian civil-military coordination framework can play a role. This project examines the existing literature on the environmental impacts of humanitarian response, identify policies and practices to mitigate adverse impacts, and investigate the role that UN Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination (CMCoord) and militaries can have to support this effort.