The Law of Protracted Conflict: Overcoming the Humanitarian-Development Divide

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Law

Abstract

Contemporary armed conflicts have become protracted, complex and urbanised with far-reaching socio-economic consequences, such as severe damage to infrastructure, disruption of services, and protracted displacement. The dire socio-economic dimensions of protracted conflicts, as well as the link between poverty and fragility, render the traditional divide between humanitarian and development assistance unfeasible to address the short- and long-term needs of affected communities. The proposed project will provide a comprehensive analysis of the institutional and substantive legal frameworks within which humanitarian and development assistance are delivered. Its aim is to investigate the extent to which international law enables integrated, sustainable and accountable humanitarian and development assistance in contexts of protracted conflicts. The project will deliver on its aim through three closely connected work packages (WP) that focus on institutions, legal regimes and accountability, respectively. WP 1 charts the multitude of humanitarian and development actors operating in contexts of protracted conflicts and examines whether their mandates, principles, legal relations, and institutional structures are amenable to the creation of a humanitarian-development nexus. WP 2 focuses on the interactions between legal regimes applicable to protracted conflicts, with a view to evaluating whether international law contributes to the creation of the divide between the two sectors or can in fact provide legal common grounds to overcome the divide between them. Lastly, WP 3 assesses the need for new standards and mechanisms to ensure the inclusion of and accountability to affected communities in light of the expanding and interconnected nature of humanitarian and development responses. The project will be the first to approach the divide between humanitarian and development assistance comprehensively from an international law perspective. Moreover, it will clarify the laws that pertain to the underexplored, socio-economic dimensions of protracted conflicts. Therefore, the project will make fundamental advances in the field of international law, as well as the multidisciplinary fields of humanitarianism, development, transitional justice, and peacebuilding. More broadly, the research findings of the project will contribute to some of the fundamental debates in international law, for example, on the evolution of international (humanitarian) law in face of the changing characteristics of armed conflicts, regime interactions and fragmentation of international law, and the expanding role and authority of non-state actors, particularly international organisations, in global governance. Beyond its contributions to scholarship, the project will develop legal and policy recommendations for the interpretation and design of international law and thus engage in knowledge transfer for international cooperation towards the operationalisation of the humanitarian-development nexus.

Planned Impact

The last decade has seen a surge in the intensity and duration of armed conflicts, leading to widespread human suffering and major economic costs (United Nations and World Bank, 2018). The traditional conceptualisation of humanitarian assistance as confined to the provision of short-term relief and of development assistance as part of long-term socio-economic programming for the post-conflict phase has created a divide that fails to address the needs of affected communities. Accordingly, the need for an integrated humanitarian-development response to protracted armed conflicts has resurfaced on the international agenda (UNGA, 2016; CoEU, 2017). However, little is known about the legal drivers of humanitarian-development divide and the legal risks that arise as this agenda is moving forward.

The overall goal of the project is to steer prevalent legal interpretations and policy implementation towards a more integrated, effective and accountable practice of humanitarian and development assistance. More specifically, this project aims to instigate institutional learning towards better understanding of legal relations and mandates relevant in protracted conflict, from an international law perspective. The objective is to get the actors from all levels to communicate more effectively, to co-produce the knowledge that pertain to this research project, and then feed back the findings of the project to the communities of practice working in both humanitarian and development domains of policy-making.

Some institutions involved in development and humanitarian assistance are key in forging convergence between the two areas and in shaping future policy directions. Others are central for our project from a perspective of knowledge exchange, as they can help the project team to acquire a more fine-grained understanding of current practices and policy implementation on the ground. Accordingly, the project sets out to engage with three levels of policy makers and practitioners, working in the areas of development, humanitarian affairs and peacebuilding:

(i) Global policy-making community of international institutions and major donors (notably, Germany and the UK) that seek to create convergences between humanitarian and development sectors. They would benefit from more fine-grained understanding of legal challenges involved in the policy shift towards greater development-humanitarian nexus, both on the ground and at a systemic level of international legal practice.

(ii) Policy makers, non-state groups and civil society based in the DRC and Colombia that are involved in managing and contesting humanitarian and development interventions at the national and/or local level. They generally deal with the real-life consequences of development-humanitarian divide and would benefit from better understanding of how to navigate legal complexity underpinning the two fields.

(iii) Practitioners working on protracted conflicts at the grassroot level, providing services that help to plan and implement humanitarian and development action, e.g. mediators, leaders of field missions, and project-level consultants. They work directly with affected communities and would benefit from concrete and practical guidelines how the nexus between the two areas can be operationalised.

Because the project aims to advance the fundamental knowledge about international legal drivers of humanitarian-development divide, it can inform the practice of all three of these target audiences. Through an increased awareness of target groups about legal interpretations that would encourage greater convergence, this project will enhance the positive impacts of both development and humanitarian action on the ground. Similarly, through better articulation of legal risks involved in the greater policy coherence, this project will strengthen the legal position of affected local communities in contesting harmful or ineffective conflict interventions

Publications

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Ozcelik A (2020) (Un)constitutional change rooted in peace agreements in International Journal of Constitutional Law

 
Description Project partners in Colombia 
Organisation Del Rosario University
Country Colombia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The research team have set out the mutual research agenda, the main targets for outputs and outcomes, and also the timeline of the project for the coming 3 years. Researchers at Glasgow has shared the collection of existing academic research and materials on the topic of research, and engaged in determining the scope of research in Colombia.
Collaborator Contribution The research team in Colombia is currently mapping the relationship between humanitarian and development assistance in Colombia, and in particular various international institutions involved in funding the implementation of 2016 Peace Agreement.
Impact The research team in Colombia is currently mapping the relationship between humanitarian and development assistance in Colombia, and in particular various international institutions involved in funding the implementation of 2016 Peace Agreement. At the moment the team has produced a draft database of institutions, including their flagship projects. This research is helping the project team as a whole to understand the terrain of actors operating in the situation of protracted conflict.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Project partners in the DRC 
Organisation Catholic University of Congo
Country Congo, the Democratic Republic of the 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The research team have set out the mutual research agenda, the main targets for outputs and outcomes, and also the timeline of the project for the coming 3 years. Researchers at Glasgow has shared the collection of existing academic research and materials on the topic of research, and engaged in determining the scope of research in the DRC.
Collaborator Contribution The partnership has officially started 1 month prior to submitting this report. The partners had made initial arrangements, which included putting together the team of researchers, plan of events, and the budget that is required to advance the research agenda.
Impact The partnership is very recent and has only been put in place in February 2021.
Start Year 2021
 
Description A roundtable on war economies and international law 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact An online roundtable between academics and practitioners, to discuss the challenges for international law created by war economies. Panellists:
Dr. Orly Stern (Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford)
Emanuela-Chiara Gillard (University of Oxford, Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflicts)
Claire Tixeire (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Berlin)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://endlessconflicts.org/panel-protracted-conflicts-war-economies-and-sustainable-development-is...
 
Description A roundtable with international institutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event consisted of a roundtable that was attended by representatives from 3 international organisations, active in the field of our project research (the World Bank, UNDP, ICRC).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://endlessconflicts.org/a-roundtable-humanitarian-development-peace-divide-and-international-la...
 
Description Bukavu workshop (DRC) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact An interactive in-person knowledge exchange workshop was organised with civil society organisations in the city of Bukavu, the conflict-affected region of the DRC. A workshop report, including minutes of a discussion, is available in French.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Conference panel on protracted conflict, international law and distribution 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A project theme-focused panel organised at the conference 'International Law and Distribution'.
Speakers:
Aakriti Malhotra (Jindal Global Law School, India), "Humanitarian Aid or Manitarian Aid?"
Eliana Cusato (Amsterdam Centre for International Law (UvA)), "Global Extractivism and the Politics of Conflict Mineral Regulation"
Daniëlla Dam-de Jong (Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies) "International law and the distribution of land in peace processes"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://endlessconflicts.org/panel-humanitarian-development-peace-nexus-and-distribution/
 
Description Knowledge exchange workshop at Kinshasa (DRC) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A three-day in person workshop was organised in Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC (August 2021). Participants were staff from international institutions, academia, and the relevant governmental bodies in the DRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://endlessconflicts.org/drc-project-workshop-26th-27th-28th-august-2021/
 
Description Knowledge exchange workshop in Colombia (online) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The project research team in Colombia presented their draft report on the Territorially Focused Development Programmes (PDET), gathering feedback from practitioners, policymakers and academics working on related topics in Colombia. Panellists:

Dr. Giedre Jokubauskaite (University of Glasgow),
Andrés Rodríguez Morales (Universidad del Rosario)
Dr. Juana Catalina García Duque (Universidad de los Andes)
Prof. Diana Ramírez Sarmiento (Universidad de la Sabana)
Paulo Esteban Tovar (Fundación Ideas para la Paz)
Camila Cuéllar (Advisor to congresswoman Juanita Goebertus - Legislative Work Unit)
Mateo Gómez Vásquez (KROC Institute)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://endlessconflicts.org/panel-an-overview-of-international-cooperation-in-territorially-focused...
 
Description Roundtable "Socio-economic and environmental foundations for peace: What role for international law?" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A knowledge exchange event between academics and practitioners. Panellists: Carl Bruch (Environmental Law Institute), Amanda Cahill-Ripley (University of Liverpool), Brian Lander (World Food Programme)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://endlessconflicts.org/roundtable-socio-economic-and-environmental-foundations-for-peace-what-...
 
Description Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Project website was created in a way to generate further interest in the project, and to have easy access to its outputs, events, and news.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021,2022
URL https://endlessconflicts.org/