Research Society of International Law in collaboration with the Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative held a joint training session on the 1st of February, 2017 at the Serena Hotel, Islamabad. The one-day workshop’s aim was to provide those working for international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) in Pakistan with a greater undertaking of the local legal framework, and how it regulates humanitarian action in Pakistan. The purpose of the training was to provide humanitarian actors working in INGOs with more awareness of the relevant regulations but also hear and share experiences with their peers.
Mr. Muhammad Oves Anwar, Director, Conflict Law Centre explained the distinction between the law of peace and the law of war and highlighted that the conflict paradigm applies to military operations being conducted in FATA and PATA. From a legal perspective, this paradigm is governed by International Humanitarian Law and Pakistan’s domestic law of war. However, there is a huge capacity gap in Pakistan when dealing with the multifaceted legal challenges arising from its counter terrorism and counter militancy effort. He further explained the legal shift that takes place when the State engages in military operations against non-state actors. This shift leads to the disengagement of the human rights protections that exist in peacetime and engage humanitarian protections instead and accentuated upon how this is particularly relevant for INGOs.
Ms. Zainab Mustafa, Research Associate at the Conflict Law Centre, Research Society of International Law spoke at length about the legal disaster management framework in Pakistan. Historically, disaster management in Pakistan has mainly focused on flooding, rescue and relief operations, with little emphasis on preparedness. With time, however, there has been a shift towards a framework based on mitigation and preparedness. Ms. Mustafa stated that all disasters can be managed by a systematic process of disaster management that aims at minimizing the damage and restoration of people to their normal state. Efficient disaster management entails a mechanism of coordinating and utilizing available resources to deal with emergencies effectively and also deals with strategic and organizational management processes used to protect vital assets from hazard risks in such emergencies. Ms. Mustafa explained the main phases of pre and post disaster management, provisions of the key domestic legislative instruments and the development of this framework, highlighting its merits and demerits and areas that need to be reformed.
Mr. Ali Gilani, Advocate High Court, spoke on the legal regime relating to INGOs in Pakistan, specifically in relation to the new policy for INGOs developed by the Ministry of Interior and the hurdles that INGOs face in this registration process.
Ms. Minahil Khan provided an in-depth analysis of the registration process for domestic NGOs under Pakistan’s legal framework and compared the registration process for NGOs and INGOs.