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Neutrality and Impartiality in RemoteProgramming of Humanitarian Operations: Case Study MSF remote operations in Somalia 2008 until 2012
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology. (International Humanitarian Action)
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Humanitarian organisations are increasingly using remote programming to maintain access to vulnerable populations in contexts of high insecurity whilst mitigating the overall risks to staff security.   What may once have been perceived as temporary modes of operation have ceased to be so as remote programming has become a (semi-) permanent modus operandi in many countries (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia).  The boom in remote programming of humanitarian operations has prompted extensive research and innovation into improving the application of this method however it has had a strong focus on technical aspects to improve programme quality. A distinctive focus on the compromise to operational neutrality and impartiality, known as a direct consequence of remote programming, has been lacking.  This project, Neutrality and Impartiality in Remote Programming of Humanitarian Operations, has begun to bridge this gap, identifying key issues for maintaining, preserving and managing the operational neutrality and impartiality of remote humanitarian programmes. The project is a case study of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) operations in Somalia from 2008 until 2012, as an organisation forced to switch to remote programming in 2008 following targeted attacks.  The bulk of the research took place at the location of the MSF coordination offices in Nairobi where participant observation and key informant interviews allowed for a thorough analysis of the topic.  The research found that a definitive lack of a valid decision making entity in a responsible position with the ability to exert management control over the neutrality and impartiality of operations has considerably weakened the organisation’s neutrality and impartiality both in real and perceived terms.  Therefore issues surrounding remote programming do pose a considerable threat to the neutrality and impartiality of operations, with serious implications as to the prospect of staff security and therefore undermining the appropriateness of the method.  This paper however highlights several good practices that can be developed further and adopted to address some of the issues. It presents practical recommendations for improving the management of neutrality and impartiality of remote programming, which have been designed to assist humanitarian organisations to maintain project status in highly insecure contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 80 p.
Keyword [en]
International humanitarian action peace conflict religion remote management programming
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-201986OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-201986DiVA: diva2:630321
External cooperation
Médecins Sans Frontières
Educational program
Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action
2013-05-30, Eng 2-0076, Upper Campus, Uppsala, 16:20 (English)
Available from: 2013-06-20 Created: 2013-06-18 Last updated: 2013-06-27Bibliographically approved

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