Localisation: Opportunities and challenges for protection in disaster response

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This resource is useful for practitioners as it provides a useful examination of the opportunities and challenges of using localised responses to humanitarian protection.

The research paper includes the following key points:

Case for and against local actors as protection actors

  • Current literature on the relationship between protection and localisation is primarily about conflict-related emergencies.
  • Arguments exist that reducing the involvement of international actors will further reduce funding for non-conflict related protection.
  • Among the arguments for supporting local actors as protection actors is the argument that local actors will provide protection strategies that positively contribute to the agency of individuals in times of crises.
  • The research paper argues that the localisation debate needs to be shifted away from an international-national dichotomy towards an understanding that seeks a complementary approach that includes a combination of actors.

Comparing contexts of protection: disaster and conflict response

  • Threats to civilians in disasters usually result from displacement and the breakdown of law and order (e.g. the exacerbated vulnerabilities of groups). Protection issues are linked to physical, social and economic barriers that impact people’s ability to access assistance and services, and the marginalisation of vulnerable groups in the community (such as sexual and gender minorities).
  • Disaster-affected states can experience conflict and harmful cultural practices that complicate protection responses.
  • Traditional strategies play a role in how communities cope with the effects of disasters.
  • While there are international protections (in the form of human rights instruments etc.) for people affected in non-conflict disasters, no comprehensive international legal treaty exists.
  • Additionally, international protections are not necessarily included in national laws, or may only be included in non-enforceable ways. 

Challenges and opportunities for protection in localised disaster response:

  • The research paper categorises opportunities and challenges under the following points: Differing concepts of protection, Different prioritisation and perspectives, Multiple mandates, Gender and cultural norms and biases, Humanitarian principles, and Representation and accountability.
  • Within this section the paper highlights some of the impacts of differing knowledge, perspectives and approaches of international and local actors on protection activities; such as the cultural norms and practices for keeping people safe, and identifications of particular at-risk groups by international actors.
  • This section of the paper notes that crises provide opportunities to influence established culture and gender roles, and as such localising responses can allow affected individuals to take on leadership roles. However the paper also acknowledges that times of crises can further exacerbate biases and further discriminate groups that are already marginalised, such as sexual and gender minorities.

The research paper concludes with a list of questions to guide further research grouped under the 6 points in the ‘Challenges and opportunities for protection in local disaster response’ section, with the additional point of ‘protection outcomes and complementary roles’. These questions are used to guide further field research in the Pacific.

[Quote]

"One study regarding risk reduction and humanitarian response in Fiji highlighted experiences of discrimination with regard to shelter, livelihoods and recovery activities for sexual and gender minorities."

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The research paper includes the following key points:

Case for and against local actors as protection actors

  • Current literature on the relationship between protection and localisation is primarily about conflict-related emergencies.
  • Arguments exist that reducing the involvement of international actors will further reduce funding for non-conflict related protection.
  • Among the arguments for supporting local actors as protection actors is the argument that local actors will provide protection strategies that positively contribute to the agency of individuals in times of crises.
  • The research paper argues that the localisation debate needs to be shifted away from an international-national dichotomy towards an understanding that seeks a complementary approach that includes a combination of actors.

Comparing contexts of protection: disaster and conflict response

  • Threats to civilians in disasters usually result from displacement and the breakdown of law and order (e.g. the exacerbated vulnerabilities of groups). Protection issues are linked to physical, social and economic barriers that impact people’s ability to access assistance and services, and the marginalisation of vulnerable groups in the community (such as sexual and gender minorities).
  • Disaster-affected states can experience conflict and harmful cultural practices that complicate protection responses.
  • Traditional strategies play a role in how communities cope with the effects of disasters.
  • While there are international protections (in the form of human rights instruments etc.) for people affected in non-conflict disasters, no comprehensive international legal treaty exists.
  • Additionally, international protections are not necessarily included in national laws, or may only be included in non-enforceable ways. 

Challenges and opportunities for protection in localised disaster response:

  • The research paper categorises opportunities and challenges under the following points: Differing concepts of protection, Different prioritisation and perspectives, Multiple mandates, Gender and cultural norms and biases, Humanitarian principles, and Representation and accountability.
  • Within this section the paper highlights some of the impacts of differing knowledge, perspectives and approaches of international and local actors on protection activities; such as the cultural norms and practices for keeping people safe, and identifications of particular at-risk groups by international actors.
  • This section of the paper notes that crises provide opportunities to influence established culture and gender roles, and as such localising responses can allow affected individuals to take on leadership roles. However the paper also acknowledges that times of crises can further exacerbate biases and further discriminate groups that are already marginalised, such as sexual and gender minorities.

The research paper concludes with a list of questions to guide further research grouped under the 6 points in the ‘Challenges and opportunities for protection in local disaster response’ section, with the additional point of ‘protection outcomes and complementary roles’. These questions are used to guide further field research in the Pacific.