Any government’s “undermining of humanitarian principles presents more than merely theoretical or legal problems; it creates practical impediments to access, acceptance, and security for humanitarian operations,” says a February 2011 report from the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The report (available here) calls on governments to amend “legislation and policies which undermine humanitarian engagement with all parties to the conflict, including non-state armed groups, essential to access all affected populations.”

To Stay and Deliver: Good Practices for Humanitarians in Complex Security Environments finds barriers to humanitarian action, such as the ban on contact with entities designated as “terrorist,” have “severely undermined opportunities for humanitarian actors to negotiate access for aid to civilians.” It recommends “existing policies which seek to restrict such engagement should be reconsidered and brought in compliance with international humanitarian