Over the past five years, various developments in the international aid policy sphere have resurfaced a decades-old discussion about the link between humanitarian action, development and peace efforts – the so-called “triple nexus”. This discussion focuses on protracted conflicts and fragile settings, as these are environments where humanitarian funding and response are overstretched and where development and peace struggle to take hold.
Three important reference points in this policy environment are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),1 the Agenda for Humanity2 and the twin United Nations (UN) resolutions on sustaining peace.3 These various commitments have been driving development actors to seek ways to engage earlier and remain present in conflict-affected areas.4 They have mobilized many donors and organizations around a vision in which humanitarian action works to reduce needs, risks and vulnerability, in addition to responding to needs,5 and they have spurred the UN system into organizational reforms to ensure a system-wide coherent effort towards the SDGs, including in places affected by conflict.6 They have also been accompanied by renewed calls for, and efforts towards, greater transparency, efficiency, accountability, collaboration and results across the international aid system.
Efforts to achieve the right synergy between humanitarian action, development and peace efforts have again regained momentum globally. But they have also raised concerns within the humanitarian community about a shrinking space for neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action during armed conflict.
In this Q&A, Policy Adviser Filipa Schmitz Guinote discusses the International Committee of the Red Cross's (ICRC) policy reflections on the interface between humanitarian action, development and peace, and the so-called “triple nexus” discussion. She unpacks some of the conceptual and practical tensions around humanitarian principles and humanitarian identity in the interaction between humanitarian, development and peace actors. She also outlines the rationale behind the ICRC's work with affected people in protracted conflicts, against the backdrop of an ICRC Institutional Strategy which commits the organization to building sustainable humanitarian impact with affected people and working with others.