Accordingto International Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC, 1996), there are seven(Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary service, Unity andUniversality) fundamental principal to which first four (Humanity,Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence) are the core to humanitarian principlesof action. Humanitarian principles outlines what and how humanitarianassistance should be delivered to those in need without any discrimination andor distinction and how all stake holders involved into it should facilitate theaccess and acceptance to the humanitarian actors.Wheninterviewed on 5th January 2018, V Singh, worked as Assistant Director ofProgramme, Handicap International, South Sudan Programme, confirmed that ashumanitarian worker humanitarian principles and its values are guidingprinciple in their intervention as long as their key stake holders are aware ofthese principles. Otherwise being humanitarian actor our role is also to raiseawareness on humanitarian principles and differentiate them from theconflicting parties and make them understands its importance and is the crucialtools for getting into conflict zone to access the people in need. However,for Weiss (1999, p.4) humanitarian principles are not ‘hard and fast’ and ‘it istempered with ground reality’. He further pointed out that in humanitarianhistory these principle has done more harm than good to humanitarian action, Inmany humanitarian actions sometimes it is impossible to respect the principleof neutrality and impartiality to acceptance in the community one need to takeside with beneficiary and help them with available resources.
Moreover, Slim(2015) highlighted that Irrespective of humanitarian law andprinciples, timely provision of humanitarian assistance remains operationallychallenging. Humanitarian action can be manipulated and neglected byadministrative authorities within the humanitarian system, this was the’consequence of creation of MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières/doctors withoutborders) by group of ICRC field staff, who could not accept the ICRChumanitarian principles (Weiss, 1999, p.4), which is more problematic than everbefore’. Humanitarian principles can further face complex problems of access,equality and collective action. Humanitarian assistance can be aggressivelyresisted and disputed by parties in an armed conflict and can be further abusedby individuals overseeing and getting it. Theissue witness by Weiss (1999) and Slim (2015) talks a lot about humanitarianprinciple in Humanitarian action, whether we agree or not when it comes to theground reality of humanitarian action with humanitarian principles become twodifferent unreachable poles.
Inaddition, to Leader (2000, p.1), they are ‘increasingly looked to as a rudderwith which to steer a course through the murky water of relief provision incomplex emergencies’. Whereby, differenthumanitarian organisation are obliged to follow donors political agenda, andtheoretical aspect of humanitarianprinciple can only be used as essential tool either to access the people inneed and or to justify humanitarian action. If we refer to few corehumanitarian principles of impartiality and independence or even first andforemost ‘Humanity’, experiences shows that rarely humanitarian actor are onground during the real need of people, most recent example could be the Syriancrisis, first few month of the crisis, there were no humanitarian actors orvery few of them operating from neighboring countries.
To practice our ‘Humanitarianism’ principles,we were supposed to help them during their dire need, when it was needed most. However,we could not do it for obvious reasons of insecurity, funding constraints andmany more. And also we have to accept the bitter truth that due to ‘Instrumentalisationof humanitarian politics’, the purpose of humanitarian action is less emphasizedon helping the distressed people, rather its primary purpose has become gettingstate resource /funding, which automatically results in becoming statemachinery of ‘Global governance’ and remaining consideration is given to practicinghumanitarian principals and standards than helping people in need.Duringthe interview with Mr.
Singh, when we were discussing the challenges faced byhim in realizing ‘Neutrality’ and ‘operational independence’ principle inhumanitarian action. He declined of any challenges faced by him in practicing ‘Neutralityprinciples. As he has been working in international non-governmental setup forseveral year, with culturally diverse team and humanitarian principles beingpart of their organizations code of conduct, they are always neutral to bothconflicting parties and they do not affiliate to any political movement aswell, because their aim and objective is to help needy people. And on ‘Operationalindependence’ principle in humanitarian action, he acknowledge the use of armedescort on certain occasion due to insecurity, provided by one party of theconflict, he felt that in short run they got secured access to the needypeople, while in long run it shows wrong message and insecurity to them andother humanitarian actor. He insisted on the need to reinforce theimplementation of the humanitarian principles collectively by all stake holdersinvolved internally and externally, means not only within organization but alsoexternally by local authorities and community member. When it comes to theapplication by other humanitarian actors, Mr.
singh has witnessed on severaloccasion humanitarian actors practicing humanitarian principles, whereby theydeliver assistance to the people in very remote and security challenge areas without the fear of losing their lives and he wishes this sprit should keep ongoing.Weneed to analyse ‘neutrality’ princicple from two angle, firstly the donor organizationand its strategic interest and secondly the different pary involved in theconflict and or have the local and regional political influence. As witness bySlim (2015) and Weiss (1999), on several occasion donor community or statesstrategic priority does not go hand in hand with humanitarian organizationpriority or crisis on ground in different region. In addition, if at allfunding is secured for different response then the delivery mechanism, how ithas been negotiated on ground with conflicting parties, how it has been assuredthat the resources intended for the people need most will not be diverted. Iagree with Mr.
Singh’s on example of use of armed escort can give relive inshort term while in long run it becomes insecurity to the same humaniatarianactor or even to all humanitarian community. Therefore, humanitarian agenciesare forced or to compromise on neutrality aspect to collaborate with one orboth parties of conflict to make the assistance available to the people inneed.Mr.SinghShred his approach of paracting humanitarian principle, which is commonly usedby many humanitarian organization. That is mixing national and internationalteam with different culture back ground in realizing humanitarian response and theawareness raising of the stake holders of our essential tool of humanitarianprinciple in humanitarian response. Moreover, donor support can play crucialrole in the application of humanitarian principles in humanitarian assistance,whereby they should prioritize the crisis as per the need not politicallyimportant crisis as well as timely and periodic funding to humanitarian action.Weiss(1999) has also suggested ‘intervention trio (the military, the political anddiplomat element) in improved collaboration and integration’, while Leader(2000) has share the example of South Sudan, whereby.
several organization’sapproach of ‘do no harm’ to analyze the relief effort impact on local economy and also pointed out the use of recruitinglocal staff with ‘technical and personal skills’. We should also think of. Tomake humanitarian assistance to reach all civilian population of all parties,there is need of ‘intervention trio’, which is also included in the operationalguideline of humanitarian principle, whereby donors avails the resourcesunconditionally and on time to help the people in need.
And at ground levellocal level the local authority if applicable in conflict context military and warringparties also should give un-conditional access to civilian, to makehumanitarian choices and act accordingly. So that assistance can be deliveredto them when they are in dire need, humanitarian autonomy should not be compromised.Collaborating with local organization and or humanitarian player could also beone solution to access the civil population in terrible need.
Thereshould be good balance between humanitarian principle and its application inhumanitarian action as it involves several parties from donor to the recipientas well as ground reality, which requires proper cooperation and negotiation.