Engaging Non-State Armed Groups in Humanitarian Action

Originally published in September 2009finp

Formal actors are faced with vast shortcomings in articulating a legal foundation for engaging non-state armed groups. This essay addresses the difficulties, differences and commonalities for state and non-state actors in engaging with non-state armed groups. It demonstrates how non-governmental organizations offer the potential to fill the gap in the international legal regime by employing lower-key initiatives that avoid political issues such as the legitimization or recognition of non-state armed groups. The essay concludes that ‘small agreements’ in the humanitarian field bear the capacity to contribute enormously to prospective peace processes.