2011 – 2014

The types, dimensions and dynamics of humanitarian crises are dramatically increasing – in some instances, exponentially. Capacities needed to prevent, prepare for and respond to such crises go well beyond the humanitarian sector as presently configured, and require a much wider range of competencies and capacities as well as human and financial resources than normally used by humanitarian actors. As means to address future threats and opportunities, those with humanitarian roles and responsibilities will have to look to the respective expertise of a number of sectors as potential humanitarian actors; and, for this reason, the varied and in some instances unique capabilities of the military offer a significant case in point. To take one illustrative example, the World Food Programme has been working with the US Africa Command, the Southern African Development Community, and private sector partners to enhance preparedness for pandemics in Southern Africa through the use of joint preparedness and readiness exercises.

Bringing together international representatives from the military, the humanitarian sector, governments and the private sector through a series of thematic focus groups, key informant interviews, a 1 ½ day scenario exercise, and end of project workshop, the project will develop the knowledge base on the current and potential use of military capacities for humanitarian crisis prevention/risk reduction, preparedness and response.

Based upon the research findings and building upon a literature review undertaken as part of the project, New Dimensions of Military-Humanitarian Action, a project report will explore the types of capacities and capacity enhancing approaches and set out policy recommendations for taking the findings forward to enhance future humanitarian action. These recommendations will be explored in a review workshop in September 2013. It is envisaged that the project will lead to a growing recognition of military capacities relevant to humanitarian agencies’ planning and operations and, to an increase in the active translation of these capacities to the humanitarian sector in order to prepare for future crises.

Our partners for this project are the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).