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Digital Field Manual


On the Competences of Humanitarian Negotiators

Members of the CCHN community have identified a series of competences in terms of knowledge, attitudes, and skills that define, in their view, the profile of humanitarian negotiators. It is understood that the selection of competences constitutes a first baseline reflection on the shared features of the members of the CCHN community and their profession. It is expected that this understanding will evolve over time with the expansion of the membership of the community and the progression of the demands from the field. Hence, these elements of knowledge, attitudes, and skills are mentioned here as a series of shared objectives towards which members aspire to build their competence through personal, institutional, and community-based development activities. Knowledge is understood as concepts and methods related to humanitarian negotiation that can be acquired through various means and experience, including training workshops and reading material. Attitudes are understood as personal behaviors and perspectives that are mostly acquired through self-reflections and critical thinking based on field experience. Skills are understood as technical abilities to undertake negotiation-related tasks.

The following table presents the Competence Chart on Humanitarian Negotiation as developed in the course of a Professional Consultation in Caux, Switzerland, in June 2019 involving 22 experienced field practitioners, all members of the CCHN community. The results of the consultation are further reviewed and discussed in peer workshops across field operations. The CCHN Competence Chart is organized in three levels:

  • Level 1. Core competence concerns the aspiration of all those working or hoping to work in this domain;
  • Level 2. Advanced competence collects elements that professionals should aspire to as they handle more complex and demanding negotiation processes; and
  • Level 3. Expert-level competence underlines elements that are the most advanced for the most experienced humanitarian negotiators.

*Advanced and Expert levels presume inclusion of the elements of the previous levels.

These elements of knowledge, attitudes, and skills are understood as cutting across the humanitarian sector and activities. They should inform the work of frontline humanitarian negotiators and their interpretation of their respective mandate. In addition to these core elements, there are multiple levels of policies, norms, and tools attached to the mission of each agency that should also be understood. Each agency should ensure that their frontline negotiators are informed about these policies prior to mandating them to negotiate their implementation. The CCHN’s concern is to focus on the know-how required to plan and conduct a well-articulated negotiation process above and beyond the policy and normative framework of humanitarian operations. This know-how is presented step by step in the CCHN Field Manual. The CCHN recommends to all its members to seek the necessary policy and normative tools mentioned above through their organization, personal reading, and professional training programs.

CCHN Toolkit on Frontline Humanitarian Negotiation

Through a series of in-depth interviews and informal exchanges with humanitarians form around the world, the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation has gathered a unique understanding of humanitarian negotiation practices. Drawing on these first-hand experiences and insights, the CCHN developed a comprehensive toolkit for those who conduct humanitarian negotiations for the purpose of assisting and protecting populations affected by armed conflicts and other forms of violence.

CCHN Field Manual

The CCHN Field Manual on Frontline Humanitarian Negotiation offers a comprehensive and systematic method for carrying out humanitarian negotiations. The manual includes a set of practical tools, drawn from field practices, and a step-by-step pathway to plan and implement negotiation processes in a structured and customized way.

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CCHN Negotiator Handbook

The CCHN Negotiator Handbook offers the collection of updated CCHN tools for direct use in current negotiation processes. It outlines how to apply each tool of the CCHN Field Manual with background guidance and step-by-step instructions. All tools are provided in full-page printable format. The CCHN Negotiator Handbook also serves as the point of reference for participants during the CCHN Peer Workshop.

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CCHN Facilitator Handbook

The CCHN Facilitator Handbook provides all the information and references needed to facilitate a peer workshop with members of staff on humanitarian negotiation. It assists our facilitators as they build their own skills in presenting and using our tools and methods. We offer regular training sessions so that our community members can work to become our certified facilitators.

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CCHN Negotiator Handbook

The CCHN Negotiator’s Notebook is designed for note-taking during meetings and includes fact sheets related to humanitarian negotiation and templates from our Field Manual on Frontline Humanitarian Negotiation. With our Negotiator Notebook, users always have essential negotiation tools and concepts to hand.

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CCHN Connect

CCHN Connect is a community-powered online forum on humanitarian negotiation. It provides a platform for humanitarian professionals to discuss challenges and dilemmas of humanitarian negotiations and connect with peers from around the world. The forum is packed full of interviews with frontline negotiators, blog series, research papers and more.

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CCHN Case Studies

The CCHN Case Studies present the application of the negotiation tools of the CCHN Field Manual to real-life situations from the field that have been synthesized and decontextualized for the purpose of the exercise and maintaining confidentiality. Each case study takes the reader through a negotiation process, illustrating the implementation of key tools at the different stages of the process.

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