Could you imagine dropping books, food and Hallmark cards instead of bombs on our current enemies? Could you imagine going into uncharted lands with a mission of peace rather than force? Well, maybe the time has come for humanitarian diplomacy.
What exactly is humanitarian diplomacy? The ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) defines it as a strategy for influencing the parties to armed conflicts and other State, non State actors and members of civil society. Its purpose is purely humanitarian and it is carried out through a network of sustained relationships bilateral and multilateral, official and informal.
So, it is a strategy of influence through friendships and networking. It is a purposeful plan to elicit a result from parties currently involved in conflict. Sounds good so far. How do the Red Cross or other humanitarian focused groups engage in this strategy?
I would suggest as a course of action developing deep and meaningful relationships in the local communities situated in the society that is experiencing the various conflicts. To be truly able to be humanitarian and diplomatic at the same time, we must create the grass root type relationships with real people in real life. Managing high level relationships with various quasi-political friends never ever can be completely clean. This is not to say that some of this world's most wonderful people have sat or currently sit in high level diplomacy seats, however, if I want to see what is happening on the field, I will be down in the front row where I can taste the dirt. The people down on the grass, dirt and in the field develop more substantial progress in one day then ten years of leather seat diplomacy.
Humanitarian diplomacy is the everyday actions taken by everyday people to reach out and assist, educate, feed, cure and help people who they do not know and to whom they desire to stretch out their hands in peace. When enough of us everyday people get together and stretch our hands you will be amazed at what we can achieve together.