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As well, they see [that the fact of] being ‘neutral’ can sometimes lead to practices and situations in which the organisation, in providing humanitarian assistance, aids and abets the conflict as well as contributes to further human rights violations.126 For example, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the mission and mandate of UNPROFOR in Bonia and Croatia from 1992 – 1995. All parties to the conflict perceived UNPROFOR to be biased in favour of the other side and thus UNPROFOR often found itself both literally and figuratively hijacked and unable to secure the delivery of humanitarian assistance - one of the main mandates of its mission.
Others feel that any kind of assistance or intervention whether it is perceived as neutral or not, leads to prolonging the conflict and furthering human rights abuses, often because the international community can be either witting or unmitting pawns in the conflict as we saw with the UN Mission in Somalia. The mission was initially ostensibly about ensuring humanitarian assistance to the local civilian population, but soon the U.S. (as the lead country of the Mission) got caught up in the politics of the conflict and allowed itself to become an active player in the conflict further fueling a situation it had 126 See Mary B. Anderson's Do no harm approach, described in chapter 2.3 (page 95 pp.)
3. Field relationships 3.3 Larger-scale organisations 245 come to alleviate in the first place.
3.3.4 Relationship to other INGOs and IGOs working in the region 184.108.40.206 Overview The relationship to other INGOs and IGOs working in the region very much depends on the Mission, the goal and objectives of the organisation and the personnel on the ground. However, generally there is much competition between the various international players for resources, overlap of programming in some areas and a gap in others. As well, there is often a lack of information and knowledge about what the various international counterparts are doing.
However, the international community is trying to address this issue through a variety of methods. There are now often committees or groups formed around an issue (eg. the demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants) or target group (child soldiers) where the international as well as local players get together to exchange information and sometimes join together to pool resources.
But part of the problem with these committees is that often the local community is either intentionally or unintentionally excluded. So while there is more information flow and exchange between the various aspects of the international community, much of this flow remains outside the local community.
And even when there is collaboration and co-operation between the agencies there is still a good deal of competition and jockeying for position. For example in the area of monitoring human rights, you will have the U.N. either within the Mission structure or by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) or often by both, as well as a regional intergovernmental body such as the OAS or OSCE and then by non-governmental groups as well such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch. This of course leads to turf wars but often the very issue that should be addressed is not.
For example, in Kosovo at least 5 different organisations go to see prisoners – UNMIK, OSCE, OHCHR, Amnesty International, ICRC. Yet with all these organisations monitoring and supposedly addressing the conditions and lack of rights for prisoners, many prisoners still found their rights denied and facing miscarriages of justice.
Both the Missions in East Timor and Kosovo recognised the problems of the inherent competition and lack of co-ordination between agencies and programs and tried to address this issue by setting up a pillar system. The pillar system is such that one body would be responsible for the all the activities under one particular pillar. In Kosovo for example, the European Union was responsible for all programs and activities within the reconstruction and development arena; UNHCR was responsible for all humanitarian assistance; the OSCE was responsible for the human rights and democratisation part of the Mission and the UN itself was responsible for civil administration.
It sounds good on paper, but unfortunately it did not take away the competition or turf wars. This is partly because theSE issues can not be so clear cut and neatly divided into 4 separate boxes – there is bound to be some overlap. As well, it is impossible to cut out
3. Field relationships 3.3 Larger-scale organisations 246 the competition and petty jealousies particularly in an environment where reputations and careers are at stake because the reality is that for many organisations conflict and post-conflict situations are a business.
This is especially true for the INGOs where there livelihood depends on securing funding for programs they want to run in the region. You might have 3 or 4 different organisations interested in doing water projects, all chasing after the same funders, (such as OCHA or ECHO) and potentially the same geographic or ethnic target groups depending on the interest of the donors. For example, there is not nearly as much aid going to the Serb part of Bosnia as to the Muslim-Croat, in part because the international community feels the Serb entity is less compliant with Dayton and thus tries to use the carrot and the stick approach to aid and reconstruction to bring about compliancy.
However, overall the problem of competition and overlap has gotten better in the past several years even as the field and the number of players have grown expodentially.
Those who have been working in the field for at least 10 years talk about the development of co-operation between various INGOs and IGOs. Even the ICRC, which has traditionally worked on its own, is now recognising the value in working with other members of the international community.
220.127.116.11 Relationship with the international military presence The interaction between the military and civilian components of the international community presence in the field has also improved. Both sides have come to recognise THAT there is a dependency on each other for resources, information and help. The military now has in every operation, units and personnel to deal specifically with the civilian component of a Mission – called CIMIC (civil – military co-operation) – it is increasingly becoming one of the more important areas in a military peacekeeping operation.
The military has shown signs of opening up and sharing some of its vast resources for civilian operations and programs since the adoption of CIMIC. However, one can say there has also been too much a movement to the other side, with more dependency rather than distrust now the common factor. This is in part because often the military are the only ones with full resource capacity and hence the dependency on the military for resources that would otherwise be impossible to secure has grown expondentially.
Although there remains a certain amount of distrust with regard to co-operating with the military, particularly among the INGOs; the international community in general, especially the IGOs, have recognised the ‘benefit’ in co-operating with the military and now the international military presence is generally recognised as a key and integral component in missions along with the INGO and IGO communities, and local governmental and non-governmental structures. In some missions the military is even under the command of the SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who is the civilian head of peacekeeping missions), such as in East Timor. Although they may not be under the direct command of the civilian head of other missions, such as in Kosovo, the military chiefs are routinely included and integrated within the decision-making processes from the top echelons to the grass-roots level.
However, even given the recognition of mutual dependency, the relationship between
3. Field relationships 3.3 Larger-scale organisations 247 the military and civilian components of a mission remains difficult and often tense. This is IN part because the military remains suspicious of non-military culture and views the outside world through the lens of its own culture - rigid, hierarchal and orderly and sees the civilian world, the NGO world in particular, as chaotic and ‘undisciplined’. Thus, the military continues to have a difficult time understanding the non-military community and the role they play in peacekeeping missions. Some of this is because of the continuing myopicness of the military but some of it is also due to the actions of the civilian presence in the field, which as mentioned above, is often disorganised and competitive, with no clear exit strategy.
In conclusion both the civilian and military components to peacekeeping operations recognise the need to collaborate and the fact that both sides have something to ‘offer’, however the relationship remains rocky.
3.3.5 Relationship with the sending organisation Similar experiences in the relationship with the sending organisation exist in both smallscale and larger scale operations, in that the relationship betweeen the head organisation and the field component is a very important element of the equation in missions, but it is often problematic.
This is particularly true if the sending office does not have an office on the ground which is the most common situation particularly for peace teams such as the ones addressed in the section on small scale organisations but also for larger scale missions where the headquarters may in fact have the final say in the deciisons affecting the implementation of programming on the ground.
INGOs probably suffer much less from the situation of the geographic division between program implementation and decision-making at the policy level, in large part because they generally have an office on the ground which functions as an autonomous entity from headquarters.
However, even INGOs can not get away from the fact that field personnel often complain that the sending organisation does not understand the difficulties and the needs faced by those working on the ground. This is often exacerbated by the difficulties in communication that can define working in the field, particularly in a conflict zone.
Unrealistic expectations can then develop on both sides about what is achievable. For the field workers, trying to communicate the priorities and needs to an organisation thousands of kilometres away from the person’s work can be difficult at the best of times. Add in a constantly changing political environment, evolving response structures on the ground and a lack of reliable communications, and the potential for the sending organisation to misunderstand or misinterpret the needs and concerns of the field workers increases greatly. This is true for both large and small scale operations.
At the same time the reporting requirements of the sending organisation, in order to remain apprised of the situation, can be unrealistic by dint of the constantly changing situation in the field. Thus in conflict zones the work generally tends to be reactive rather than proactive. While it is extremely important to keep the sending organisation as informed as possible, a balance needs to be struck on both sides as to what can be feasibly achieved in keeping the sending organisation informed and involved.
3. Field relationships 3.3 Larger-scale organisations 248 It doesn’t add to the relationship that often field workers can have unrealistic expectations about the kind of support (material, emotional, financial) that a sending organisation can give, especially in a constantly changing environment. If the priorities keep changing due to the evolving situation on the ground which dictates the kinds of activities field workers do, and therefore the kinds of resources they need, it can be difficult for the sending organisation to continually meet the resource demands, as well as other needs, of the field workers. Yet, there can be an expectation by the field workers that the sending organisation is an endless reservoir of resources and support.
On the other hand incredible loyalty to an organisation or people attached to a particular organisation often develops in the field, particularly because field workers are so dependent on their superiors and their colleagues as well as on other relationships they build on the ground for their own survival as well as the the survival of their work, often literally as well as figuratively.