The humanitarian landscape is constantly evolving, and with it World Vision’s emergency responses must too. When seeking to provide emergency relief and protect vulnerable people in conflict-prone and unstable environments, World Vision and other agencies often work in close proximity to host government forces, police, armed non-state actors, foreign troops and international peacekeepers.
In September 2007, World Vision embarked on an initiative to assess the impact of changing trends in military and police engagement upon its operations, policy and strategy. Principled Pragmatism provides a summary array of outputs from the research, drawing particular attention to the main challenge identified throughout: namely, how World Vision, and by association other agencies, can balance humanitarian principles with pragmatism when engaging with military and security actors.
While our research suggests that this challenge is far from new, growing insecurity on the ground, in addition to policy developments in ‘winning hearts and minds’ campaigns and aid effectiveness, are contributing to an increasingly pressing need for more appropriate NGO policies and operational guidance on how to interact with armed groups at both field and headquarter levels.
Seeking to avoid the risk of producing just another piece of literature that remains on the shelf, we have attempted to provide staff with tangible tools based on their own feedback and on a mapping of existing behaviour. We hope that in an environment which many see as over-regulated, such guidance that responds to current challenges will be a welcome step towards deeper inter-agency engagement and understanding of the field realities in complex operating environments.