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Table 1 The constituency framework

From: Who is your constituency? The political engagement of humanitarian organisations

Constituency Inclusion mode Example
(legitimate recipients of aid)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation actively seeks engagement with beneficiaries to determine culturally appropriate provision of services.
Other humanitarian organisations
(organisations working within a similar value framework with complementary or overlapping programmatic implementation capacity)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation with nutrition expertise actively seeks an organisation with protection expertise to provide more comprehensive programming in a specific geographical area.
Compromise A humanitarian organisation acting as a sub-grantee towards a prime grant holder accepts additional reporting requirements to enter into an operational consortium.
Regional actors
(governments which are neither donors nor hosts, usually countries with influence over the hosts and with whom a variety of humanitarian organisations routinely engage, e.g. China, Russia, Iran, and Brazil)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation asks for the support of a neighbouring, but more powerful government, to influence the host government to give less restricted access to beneficiaries.
Donor governments
(governments providing funding to humanitarian organisations, and in doing so sets out a programmatic and geographical prioritisation of aid)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation seeks funding from a donor due to the influence it has over the host government; thus, the donor government develops a vested interest in the ability of the humanitarian organisation to continue to provide services and offers political support to the humanitarian organisation.
Coercion A donor government insists a humanitarian organisation checks its staff lists against a counter-terrorism database exposing the humanitarian organisation to accusations of spying by local communities.
Compromise A humanitarian organisation accepts increasing its response in a country against its own best judgement because of the financial overheads that the humanitarian organisation will receive, allowing it to respond elsewhere.
Host governments
(governments holding sovereignty over the territory within which the humanitarian organisation is operating)
Discretion In an emergency, a host government relaxes import restrictions on humanitarian organisations bringing supplies into its territory.
Coercion A host government prevents a humanitarian organisation working in opposition areas from receiving visas for international staff.
Local communities
(formal and informal civil society organisations, representing community interests, who may or may not make up part of the beneficiary group)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation seeks input from a community about the most acute areas of need.
Compromise A humanitarian organisation agrees to provide services to men in a community, despite their lack of need, to ensure agreement to provide services to women.
Terrorist groups
(groups which use violence against civilians to attain political, religious, or ideological goals)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation may actively seek security assurances from groups labelled as ‘terrorists’ to ensure safety of staff and beneficiaries.
Coercion A terrorist group demands that a humanitarian organisation pays a tax which will be used to fund the conflict.
Home societies
(societies in which the humanitarian organisations are headquartered and through which private funds are raised and political influence sought)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation actively raises awareness of an issue to increase pressure within a home society to encourage their government to act in a particular situation.
Coercion A humanitarian organisation is forced to reduce the response to a refugee crisis due to political pressure at home against immigration.
(persons contracted by the humanitarian organisation, either in the country of operations or headquarters, to assist in the implementation of the organisation’s social mission)
Discretion A humanitarian organisation develops an employment policy which facilitates the provision of labour required to implement humanitarian programmes.
Coercion A humanitarian organisation is forced to stop programmes due to strikes by staff.
Compromise A humanitarian organisation feels compelled to continue to run certain programmes due to historical precedent and emotional attachment by staff.