Emergencies

Engaging with Non-State Entities

UNICEF Programme Guidance Note on Engaging with Non-State Entities in Humanitarian Action
Checklist for deciding to engage with NSEs
Community of Practice on Programming in High Threat Environments

UNICEF has a noted history of engagement with non-state entities (NSEs). In Biafra and Cambodia in the 1970s, the UNICEF Executive Director negotiated directly with all sides to allow the safe passage of relief flights. In Sudan in the 1990s, UNICEF, as the lead agency in Operation Lifeline Sudan, negotiated a multiparty "ground rules agreement" with the Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) that laid out the principles and parameters for humanitarian assistance in areas under SPLM control. More recently, UNICEF in Afghanistan used indirect engagement with Taliban leaders to obtain endorsement for immunization activities. UNICEF has a successful record of negotiating the release of children from armed groups, including in Uganda, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

However, experience within the humanitarian community also shows that poorly planned and executed engagement will be fruitless, and in the worst case counterproductive, damaging and even prompt violence. In all cases, the decision of whether and how to engage with NSEs is complex and challenging for managers and staff due to fast evolving and diverse country situations, the multiplicity of international actors involved in a given situation, the perception that national stakeholders have or may have of UNICEF as a multi-mandated organization, and the motives of the parties to a given conflict.

Looking for support?
To request support, further guidance, resources for learning, group training (e.g. workshop, webinar) or one-on-one training on engaging with NSEs, contact EMOPS' Humanitarian Policy Section.
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Library

  • Normative Frameworks
  • UNICEF Guidance
  • More Guidance
  • Learning & Training

Normative Frameworks

UNICEF Guidance

More Guidance

Learning & Training

  • Webinar on the UNICEF Programme Guidance Note on Engaging with Non-State Entities in Humanitarian Action: Webinar presentation
  • To request further guidance, resources for learning, group training (e.g. workshop, webinar) or one-on-one training on engaging with NSEs, contact EMOPS' Humanitarian Policy Section.

Lessons Learned on Engaging with NSEs

Building Country Office (CO) Capacity

Engagement Strategy and Modalities

Public Advocacy

Private Negotiation

Information/Knowledge Management

General