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

Civilian-Military Humanitarian Coordination

Reports and Publications

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 question that the first paper raised.

Reviewing Guidance and Perspectives on Humanitarian Notification Systems for Deconfliction

This report is the result of a research collaboration between CHRHS and the US Naval War College's Humanitarian Response Program. To date, there has been scant evidence-based research examining the various United Nation Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) managed Humanitarian Notification Systems for Deconfliction (HNS4D) that have been utilized in 11 complex emergencies around the world since 2011. In an attempt to fill this gap, this study explores the history of 13 HNS4D mechanisms used in 11 different contexts and eight official UN and USAID guidance documents related to HNS4D. This paper then details the findings from 17 semi-structured interviews and five focus group sessions with 29 nongovernmental, intergovernmental and governmental humanitarian professionals experienced with using different types of HNS4D about the perceived purposes, stakeholders, challenges, and potential opportunities to improve the effectiveness of HNS4D. The goal of this study is to provide a useful, publicly available, baseline assessment for humanitarian organizations, militaries, researchers, policy makers, and practitioners focused on HNS4D as well as a repository of open source information about HNS4D (in the appendices) that can be used for further study.

Humanitarian-Military Relations in Complex Emergencies: Evidence, Insights, and Recommendations

This report analyzes practices in the field of humanitarian-military relations (HMR), as well as perceptions of crisis-affected communities about the role of armed/security actors in disaster response. This study draws on 175 interviews with humanitarian actors, armed/security actors, and crisis-affected communities in complex humanitarian emergencies across three contexts: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria/Jordan, and the Philippines. All three cases include in-depth analysis of HMR dynamics, including community perceptions of the response.

This report was made possible by a grant titled "Civil-Military Interaction in Conflicts" from the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Humanitarian-Military Relations in Complex Emergencies: Practical Guidance for Policymakers and Humanitarian Planners

This policy guidance proposes five actionable recommendations based on a 2022 report by Brown University’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS) titled Humanitarian-Military Relations in Complex Emergencies: Evidence, Insights, and Recommendations. This research was made possible by a grant from the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

U.S. Security Partnership and the Protection of Civilians: The Case of Nigeria and the Nigerian Armed Forces

This issue brief is a collaboration between Brown University’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS), the Security Assistance Monitor (SAM) at the Center for International Policy, and InterAction. It provides an overview of key facts, data, and analysis of issues related to U.S. security cooperation with the Government of Nigeria in the context of ongoing civilian protection, civilian harm, and humanitarian concerns. It is the second in a series of issue briefs examining protection of civilian issues in geographies where the United States is a significant external security partner.

Humanitarian Access, Great Power Conflict, and Large Scale Combat Operations

Authored by Brittany Card (CHRHS Visiting Scholar), Rob Grace (CHRHS Affiliated Fellow), and Tarana Sable (Brown Undergraduate Class of '22) this report advances understanding of the humanitarian dimensions of large-scale combat operations between great powers, or between other peer or near-peer states and analyzes humanitarian access challenges likely to arise in such contexts. The analysis is based on focus group sessions and key informant interviews with 37 humanitarian, military, academic, and government stakeholders.

U.S. Security Partnerships And the Protection of Civilians: Government of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian National Defense Force

The Protection of Civilians in U.S. Security Partnerships Fact Sheet Series is a collaborative research effort between Brown University’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies (CHRHS), the Security Assistance Monitor (SAM) at the Center for International Policy, and InterAction. The Ethiopia fact sheet is the first in a series of fact sheets examining protection of civilian issues in geographies where the U.S. is a significant external security partner.

Re-assessing the Civil-Military Coordination Service of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Commissioned by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), this CHRHS report takes stock of the perspectives of Civil-Military Coordination Service (CMCS) partners—including operational humanitarian organizations, donor governments, and capacity building organizations—regarding key elements of current response contexts and partners’ needs and expectations from CMCS.

Civilian-Military Coordination in Humanitarian Response: Expanding the Evidence

Through the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, CHRHS and HRP sought to develop new avenues for information sharing between humanitarian, military, and academic communities, and expand upon our ongoing work with these distinct groups who interact on a daily basis in some of the most dangerous and challenging environments in the world. Nearly two years later and during the greatest pandemic to affect our global community in over a century, we are honored and delighted to release the results of four critical research projects that we hope will serve as a catalyst for future research and action in the crucial field of humanitarian civil-military coordination.