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Documentary of the events that took place during the CCHN World Summit in June/July of 2021.

Negotiating with multiple actors in complex, evolving humanitarian environments is becoming increasingly challenging. To respond to crises, humanitarian professionals need to acquire robust negotiation skillssharexperiences, and learn from fellow practitioners and negotiation experts.

In June-July 2021, the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN) brought together frontline negotiators, humanitarian policymakers, scholars, donors, and government representatives for a world-class conference tackling the most challenging present-day issues related to humanitarian negotiation. 

This six-day global event took place in Caux, Switzerland. It included a live-stream on an interactive platform that allowed for real-time participation from people all around the world. The rich program featured humanitarian leaders, in-depth conversations around key themes in humanitarian negotiations, multiple peer workshops and live simulations, as well as many opportunities to meet and exchange with fellow participants. The event was organized in collaboration with Initiatives of Change.


The main themes discussed at the Summit

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COVID-19 vaccination negotiation

The World Summit will provide a unique opportunity for policy-makers, health experts, crisis management professionals and frontline negotiators to explore the challenges and dilemmas of COVID-19 vaccination in conflict settings. It will review plans for seeking access to populations most in need and present avenues to build the capabilities of frontline humanitarian negotiators based on the negotiation experiences gathered during previous outbreaks.

Sessions and organizers:
- Roundtable on Vaccination in Conflict Settings (CCHN)
- Emergency Health and WASH Response to COVID-19 (IFRC)
- Healthcare Negotiations (Geneva Center for Humanitarian Studies)
- Specialized Advanced Session on Vaccination in Conflict Settings

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Access negotiations

Access negotiation

Ensuring the safe access to populations affected by conflict or other situations of armed violence has been the cornerstone of humanitarian action. Participants to the World Summit will have the opportunity to connect to world experts on access negotiation as well as share their own experience in complex environments. The most recent access negotiation tools such as the CCHN Access Barometer will be explained and reviewed.

Sessions and organizers:
- Access Barometer (CCHN)
- “Multidisciplinary Negotiations”: the analysis of humanitarian access negotiations – drawing from behavioral science discipline to understand root causes behind failed negotiations (Norwegian Refugee Council)
- Community acceptance-based access negotiations: Techniques, challenges and dilemmas (MercyCorps)

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Remote negotiation and mediation

The current pandemic has further accelerated the digitalization of negotiation and mediation processes through the use of information and communication technologies in the conduct of exchanges with counterparts. Moving to remote engagements has unveiled a number of challenges in terms of building trust and maintaining reliable processes.

Sessions and organizers:
- Training on the use of digital tools in mediation (TBC)
- Lessons from the use of online and digital platforms for mediation (SwissPeace)
- Negotiation & Public Service: building trust in digital negotiation

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Kidnap, ransom and extortion negotiation

Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion (KRE) situations can easily jeopardize vital humanitarian operations and represent a significant threat to humanitarian staff working in complex environments. Participants will engage with private negotiation firms and law enforcement practitioners in reviewing the multidimensional aspects of such negotiation and how they impact global humanitarian practices. Participants will also explore pathways to build the capacity of frontline practitioners to engage in crisis negotiation.

Sessions and organizers:
- The Hostage, kidnapper and negotiator triangle (Anthropos Deep Security)
- Expert Roundtable : Strategic concerns in K&R Management (Anthropos Deep Security)
- Crisis Negotiation (Agence des Négociateurs)

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Stories from the frontlines and case studies

Participants are invited to share their own negotiation experiences in humanitarian settings and contribute to the development of this important domain.

Sessions and organizers:
- Refugee shelters' management of Venezuelan indigenous populations in Brazil as well as negotiating with military and federal governments (Fraternity - International Humanitarian Missions)
- Voices from Lesvos (CCHN)
- Cope and build. The link between peacebuilding and humanitarian action in complex emergencies: the voice from communities (Universidad Pontificale Javeriana)
- Localized violence, community cohesion, and human needs – A South Africa (USIP)
- The role of intercultural competencies when negotiating with indigenous communities in Colombia and Guatemala (MercyCorps)
- Strategic dialogues in peace processes (Swisspeace)
- Case Study on collaborative humanitarian negotiations in Central African Republic (World Food Program)
- Humanitarian negotiations from a Latin American perspective with reference to Venezuela and other challenging situations (World Food Program)
- Case Study from the Field: South Sudan (World Food Program)

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Environmental negotiation

Armed conflicts may have a significant impact on the environment, and environmental changes may further aggravate the impact of conflict on affected populations. The environment is therefore at the core of the concerns of frontline humanitarian negotiators and yet, few directives and tools have been developed to assist them in dealing with such challenges. Participants to the World Summit critically will review the connection between the environment and humanitarian negotiation.

Sessions and organizers:
- Environmental Hazards in Negotiations (CCHN)
- Roundtable on Planetary Health (Médecins Sans Fronitères)
- Environment, Climate Change, and Peace: A new look at the Humanitarian, Development, Peacebuilding Nexus (Geneva Peacebuilding Platform)

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Negotiating with armed groups

Engaging with non-state actors has been a perennial challenge for international humanitarian organizations, and yet these groups represent the largest group of counterparts on the frontlines. Participants to the World Summit will review critically the efforts to capture and analyze the experience of frontline negotiators engaging with armed militias, rebel groups and criminal gangs.

Sessions and organizers:
- How to Negotiate with Armed Groups? An immersive experience into Geneva Call's world of humanitarian engagement (Geneva Call)
- The influence of Third Parties with Non-State Armed Groups: presentation of a Case study on Northwest Syria and other experiences from the African context (CCHN)
- Humanitarian Mediation and understanding non-state armed groups (Clingendael)

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Live simulations

Participants will be able to attend practical simulations to explore the actual challenges and dilemmas of negotiating on the frontlines. They will engage directly with experienced practitioners to analyze the context of such negotiations and determine the best options in terms of safe access, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the protection of the population affected by armed conflicts.

Session and organizer:
- Simulation: Vaccination in Conflict Settings (CENAD)

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Summit partners and contributors

The World Summit was a sector-wide event celebrating collaboration and knowledge sharing among all humanitarian actors. Its success would not have been possible without our many partners and contributors, who shared perspectives and knowledge on humanitarian negotiation, mediation, policy and diplomacy through multiple sessions, case studies and workshops. 

Get in touch

Sofia Mueller
Project Coordinator – Research & Development

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