16 February 2006

United Nations Launches Manual on Humanitarian Negotiations with Armed Groups

NEW YORK, 15 February (OCHA) -- The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched today the first ever comprehensive United Nations Manual on Humanitarian Negotiations with Armed Groups.  "I strongly urge all those engaged in negotiations with non-State armed groups to consult the Manual in order to prepare and conduct the dialogue with these groups carefully", said Jan Egeland, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Every day, aid workers in the field are faced with situations that require some form of negotiations.  These can include seeking agreements to access people in need, reaching an understanding on how to protect civilians or requesting safe passage and/or security guarantees for humanitarian operations.  For humanitarian workers, therefore, negotiating successfully with all actors in situations of crisis or conflict is essential to be able to provide effective and timely humanitarian assistance and protection.

To facilitate a structured approach to humanitarian negotiations, OCHA initiated, with the support of the Swiss Government, a project to develop a practical and user-friendly guide on negotiations with non-State armed groups for humanitarian, development and human rights workers.  After research, extensive consultations with members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and several field visits, OCHA has been able to produce both the Manual and a companion set of field guidelines.  In addition, a CD-ROM was produced, which provides all relevant background material such as related United Nations documents, field studies and policy documents, as well as links to other institutions and think tanks that work on humanitarian negotiations.  "We envision that the Manual and the companion set of guidelines will become essential guides for humanitarian practitioners in the field", Egeland said.

The Manual is also available online at www.reliefweb.int .

For further information, please contact Manuel Bessler, OCHA tel.: 212 963 1249, e-mail:  bessler@un.org .

* *** *