Drawing upon a Comparative Case Study of Iraq and Afghanistan Critically Assess the Success and Failures in the Negotiation Process to Get Personnel and/or Humanitarian Aid to Populations in Need

Francesco Bruno


This paper critically assesses and compares the successes and failures of Non-Governmental Organizations(NGOs) in negotiating access to humanitarian spaces in two case studies, namely Afghanistan and Iraq. The case studies have been selected due to the nature of the two wars, namely the link to the “War on Terror” declared by President George W. Bush in 2001. As a consequence, the selected cases highlight highly politicized and insecure environments for the NGOs to work in. In terms of successes, the NGOs became more flexible in their organizational structure while solving cases on a day-to-day basis negotiating access with local as well as international actors. However, the nature of the conflicts completely shuttered any opportunity to uphold the principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence. In terms of failures, the case studies point out one of the main and most recurrent dilemmas for the NGOs, namely the lack of legitimacy and independency. As a consequence, many international NGOs engaged in remote projects using local personnel in insecure and dangerous areas lacking tools for monitoring the progresses and successes.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jpag.v8i2.13270

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