UN urged to review, revise integration efforts in conflict-torn countries

The United Nations needs to draw a clearer line between its humanitarian engagement and political and military action in developing countries, particularly those suffering from conflict, a new report says.

The report, published by the Overseas Development Institute and Stimson Center, notes that while there are benefits to the U.N.’s push for integration in its efforts to promote peace in conflict and post-conflict countries, the global body’s existing guidelines on integration need to be revised. It says the United Nations should identify practical ways of achieving integration without compromising humanitarian operations.

Without these practical measures, the United Nations risks losing the support of a number of aid groups that may not want to be associated with the global body in its humanitarian efforts in select countries, the report warns, according to the Guardian.

The report points out that there have been previous instances of nongovernmental organizations withdrawing from U.N. coordination mechanisms and says these could happen more often if the global body fails to act on amending its integration guidelines.

Jens Opermann of Action Against Hunger has backed this finding. He said that in Somalia, for instance, NGOs are “highly likely” to drop out if the United Nations moves to pursue a fully integrated mission.

“In some parts of Somalia the U.N. is seen as being partial. Aid agencies would definitely risk expulsion if they aligned with the U.N.,” Opermann said.

Other international aid officials also welcomed the report, which Katherine Nightingale of Christian Aid said is a timely review of the U.N.’s current move toward integration.

Meanwhile, Ian Bray of Oxfam argued the United Nations should not launch any new integrated mission in conflict countries without a thorough review of its practical implications.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.