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Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination

UN-CMCoord is the essential dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors in humanitarian emergencies that is necessary to protect and promote humanitarian principles, avoid competition, minimize inconsistency, and when appropriate, pursue common goals. Basic strategies range from coexistence to cooperation. Coordination is a shared responsibility facilitated by liaison and common training.

UN-CMCoord is a framework that enhances a broad understanding of humanitarian action and guides political and military actors on how best to support that action. It assists in developing context-specific guidance based on internationally agreed guidelines, it establishes humanitarian civil-military coordination structures, and ensures  that UN-CMCoord Officers and Focal Points are trained to make that coordination work. 

The UN-CMCoord Officer can also function as an auxiliary to humanitarian access, protection and security, and facilitate these workstreams as needed. This applies to complex emergencies and natural disasters.

OCHA's role

Humanitarian civil-military coordination supports OCHA's overall efforts in humanitarian operations with a military presence, where OCHA leads the establishment and management of interaction with military actors. This relationship will change depending on the type of emergency and the roles and responsibilities of the military. OCHA supports humanitarian and military actors through training and advocacy on the guidelines that govern the use of foreign military and civil defence assets and humanitarian civil-military interaction. OCHA also seeks to establish a predictable approach to and appropriate use of these assets during contingency-planning and other readiness activities. 

The Civil-Military Coordination Section (CMCS) is the designated focal point in the UN system for humanitarian civil-military coordination, supporting relevant field and headquarter level activities and operations. 

As custodian of global UN-CMCoord related guidelines, CMCS helps humanitarian actors develop context-specific guidance. The UN-CMCoord training programme run by the Section aims to equip humanitarian and military actors with the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively interact with each other. 

CMCS also prepares and deploys dedicated UN-CMCoord experts to the field. It assists in the planning, identification, preparation and deployment of appropriately trained UN-CMCoord personnel. UN-CMCoord capacity takes two forms:

  1. Deployment in response to sudden onset humanitarian emergencies or to complex emergencies and protracted crises; and 
  2. Support to UN-CMCoord Officers or Focal Points in an OCHA office.

When all other sources have proved to be insufficient, exhausted or not readily available,  a United Nations Agency, through the Humanitarian Coordinator, or the Government of an affected state can make a request for foreign military and civil defence assets (MCDA). CMCS channels such requests through its network of Government asset providers.The UN-CMCoord training programme comprises courses aimed to familiarize practitioners with humanitarian civil-military coordination concepts and principles and their practical applications in the field, including how the UN-CMCoord function supports the humanitarian architecture. The courses allow participants to reflect on the diversity of humanitarian and military actors in field operations. 


Recommended Practices for Effective Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination of Foreign Military Assets (FMA) in Natural and Man-Made Disasters (Sept 2018)
Guide for the Military 2.0
IASC Non-Binding Guidelines on the "Use of Military or Armed Escorts for Humanitarian Convoys”
Guidelines On the Use of Military and Civil Defence Assets To Support United Nations Humanitarian Activities in Complex Emergencies
Oslo Guidelines on The Use of Foreign Military and Civil Defence Assets In Disaster Relief
OCHA on Message: Civil-Military Coordination
CMCS Organigramme and contacts list
Humanitarian Military Dialogue - website - community of practice
United Nations Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination (UN-CMCoord) eCourse