As part of its conflict mediation and dialogue activities, and where political dialogue may be difficult or impossible, the HD Centre undertakes mediation on a humanitarian basis. Humanitarian mediation enables the parties in conflict to address key issues, such as safe access and protection of civilians, the special needs of women and children, displaced populations and any affected minority groups. It is intended to complement and support potential peace efforts and keep open essential and discreet channels of communication. Humanitarian mediation often provides a way to begin dialogue when other methods are impeded and it can engage non-State actors, who may otherwise be excluded, as well as United Nations and humanitarian agencies. This can provide a valuable confidence-building process for subsequent peace negotiators.
The HD Centre’s Humanitarian Mediation Programme (HMP) is currently focusing on five projects: ongoing humanitarian mediation in Darfur, a regional humanitarian dialogue in Southeast Asia, a confidential project in Central Asia, mediation support to a global health campaign in four conflict-affected countries, and closed-door dialogue sessions in Geneva. It plans to expand these projects into new areas, particularly in Africa.
The Humanitarian Mediation Progamme (HMP), formerly known as Civilian Protection in Africa (CIPA), was launched in 2007. It draws on the HD Centre’s experience of mediation and on previous work focused on improving civilian protection at the country and regional levels and in particular on improving the approach of regional and international actors to civilian protection in Africa. The focus has since shifted to providing opportunities for dialogue and mediation on humanitarian issues to belligerents, state and non-state actors, and humanitarian agencies, particularly in Africa, as well as Central and Southeast Asia.
The HD Centre has undertaken various humanitarian mediation projects in Africa, Central Asia and Asia, in contexts where political dialogue has been non-existent or has not progressed while humanitarian issues remain unaddressed. This type of mediation has also been used in post-conflict situations where unresolved humanitarian issues have resulted in ongoing tensions.
The Humanitarian Mediation Programme aims at improving commitment to humanitarian protection principles by parties in conflict areas and to improve the protection of civilians through increased humanitarian access. It also intends to promote the incorporation of adequate humanitarian safeguards into peace processes, and in some cases to provide a softer entry point for negotiation when political processes are blocked.
The HD Centre would like to thank the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Canada’s Stabilization and Reconstruction Unit, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration, the Government of Switzerland, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the German Federal Foreign Office for their financial support to the HD Centre’s Humanitarian Dialogue activities over the past few years.