Conferences: 2003

Conference Paryticipants

Civil-Military Coordination: Issues and Actors - November 3, 2003

This meeting was part of the Regional Studies Course, which is an integral part of training for Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations functional area of Army Special Operations Forces (SOF). The workshop, attended by approximately fifty military and six civilian participants, aimed to facilitate understanding between the military and humanitarian relief nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). NGO principles of independence and neutrality, and the overlapping roles of security and relief were addressed in order to highlight barriers to coordination between NGOs and the military in the field.

agenda & workshop summary

Operation Iraqi Freedom: Refining Humanitarian Analysis of War - September 4-5, 2003

Project participants reviewed the conduct of major combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom from a humanitarian perspective. The discussion covered U.S. military efforts to minimize civilian harm during air and ground operations and the methods used by the press and non-governmental organizations to analyze the humanitarian effects of war. Leading researchers described their efforts to develop an interactive all-source database to analyze collateral damage issues. This work, sponsored by the Project on the Means of Intervention, offers the promise of integrating military and civilian data on civilian casualties in the future in order to advance our understanding of the effects of war.

agenda  |  participant list

Human Rights Issues for Special Operations Forces - June 11-12, 2003

This meeting was jointly sponsored by the Project on the Means of Intervention and the U.S. Army's JFK Special Warfare Center and School. The discussions, held at the Special Operations Academic Facility at Ft. Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, raised questions about the relevance of human rights concerns in a military context and highlighted the legal requirements and moral responsibilities of conducting combat and training operations. Panel presentations and small group discussions covered a wide range of topics, including humanitarian challenges faced during military operations, responsibilities when working with local forces, and the complexity of civil-military coordination. Overall, the meeting sought to help participants explore ethical dilemmas and tradeoffs in upholding human rights principles in the Special Forces context.

agenda  |  participant list  |  report

Prospective Military Operations in Iraq: Humanitarian Implications and Considerations - January 21-22, 2003

Representing the end of the initial workshop series, this meeting sought to summarize the themes of the previous discussions in the context of a future war in Iraq. The workshop began with an analysis of Operation Desert Storm and how the future campaign might be different, and included an assessment of the humanitarian challenges that were likely to unfold during and following conflict. Project Director Sarah Sewall shared her thoughts on the common themes and preliminary conclusions from the workshop series, and participants examined the challenges of analyzing an ongoing was in real time. The discussions highlighted a number of recurring themes in the workshop series, including the challenges of gathering data on civilian casualties, and raised several questions about the most important causes of civilian suffering.

agenda  |  participant list

Working Papers

Project on the Means of Intervention - Summary of Findings
By Sarah Sewall

Ms. Sewall delivered this briefing during the "on-the-record" portion of the meeting to share information about the process and findings of the Project on the Means of Intervention's workshop series. She discussed recurring themes and questions of the Project, such as the impact of public expectations, the challenges of assessing the humanitarian impact of war, the controversy over which standards should be used in this assessment, and how attempts to minimize collateral damage can in fact increase civilian suffering. Looking forward, she offers possible results and next steps in analyzing the use of military force.

Operations in Iraq: Humanitarian Issues and Concerns
By George Devendorf

Mr. Devendorf explores a "paradigm shift" in relations between the U.S. military and humanitarian organizations which began in Afghanistan. He discusses the tensions created between the military and humanitarian communities when the military pursues mixed mandates of combat and aid efforts. He identified key obstacles and variables to civil-military cooperation in prospective operations in Iraq, including a lack of humanitarian presence in the region, degree of UN involvement in the intervention, and the degree of military involvement in humanitarian assistance.

Civil-Military Coordination: Perspective from Afghanistan
By Annabel Taylor

Ms. Taylor examines the civil-military relationship on the ground in Afghanistan to offer lessons for future post-conflict humanitarian aid. She discusses the reluctance of some Coalition members to support expanded civil affairs projects in the new Provisional Reconstruction Team (PRT) initiative due to ongoing hostilities in Afghanistan Ms. Taylor advocates undertaking coordinated contingency planning in the preconflict stage that takes into account the neutrality of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Interpreting an Unfolding War and its Humanitarian Consequences: A Dialog
By Rear Admiral James A. Winnefeld, USN (Ret.)

Rear Admiral Winnefeld addresses a series of discussion questions posed at the workshop and offers a series of questions to be posed to military planners and operators and "maxims" to inform analysis of ongoing military operations. He emphasizes the multiple conflicting pressures on the military during operations as well as the difficulties of interpreting was from the outside - and the resulting challenge of obtaining accurate data on civilian casualties. Compounding the challenges is the lack of an "all-source fusion center of information." However, Rear Admiral Winnefeld notes, "The U.S. public expects military accountability for mistakes, oversights, and avoidable errors."

top of page

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University
Copyright © 2008 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.