On 7th November 2012, the Global Protection Cluster organised a seminar on “Humanitarian Access, Protection and Assistance under Constraints”. Participants from the humanitarian and protection sectors – including UN, NGO, intergovernmental organizations, and donors - gathered to discuss current challenges in ensuring protection and respect for humanitarian principles where humanitarian access is becoming increasingly difficult. In this context, they also examined ways of improving operational capacities for protection delivery and assistance to affected civilian populations.
The round-table discussion focused on academic research, policy and best practice in the coordination of protection and humanitarian assistance under conditions of limited access. Specific examples of how humanitarian space was maintained through negotiation and dialogue with states and organised armed groups were examined in light of challenges to humanitarian principles, perceptions of stakeholders, and the strategies employed in different operations.
The concept and mainstreaming of accountability towards beneficiaries and the often difficult compromises considered when programming for protection in this context, were also addressed. In light of these discussions, the adoption of a common framework for operational and strategic decision-making was given a heightened focus throughout the seminar.
The following note summarizes the discussions and recommendations made and serves as a basis for policy development, guidance and advocacy on humanitarian access.