CIMIC Messenger 2017-01

Dear CMI Community,

this is finally the first 2017 edition of the e-CIMIC Messenger, which will be distributed in an electronic, linked content form only from now on. This format will allow us at the CCOE to provide you with more editions throughout the year, while also saving quite a bit of paper and toner on your end.

I am particularly proud to also use this edition to inform you about the marque highlight event of our CCOE in 2017, the 10th Anniversary celebration on October 10th. With the motto “From the Protection of Culture to the Protection of Civilians”, this invitational function will reach out to stakeholders from throughout the expanded CMI environment. Furthermore, you will find in this edition a thought provoking article on the future facilitation of humanitarian relief by Kilian Kleinschmidt, a formers senior UNHCR field coordinator, as well as the unique personal insights of a civilian student at one of our more recent courses.

Best regards


Wolfgang Paulik

Director CCOE

Re-Boot the System – Or how Aid needs to arrive in the 21st century*

Picture: Kilian Kleinschmidt is briefing John Kerry former US Secretary of State / Source: wikipedia

By Kilian Kleinschmidt, former UNHCR Senior Field Coordinator

The system is not broke, but broken. The twenty-five billion humanitarian aid industry is not achieving its stated goals to save lives and provide basic assistance with dignity for those in crisis. It has not managed to build the link to what is considered development aid – and development aid has largely failed to succeed in having people and communities become independent, resilient and responsible for their own lives.

Only a tiny fraction of people dispossessed and unable to access the opportunities and basic rights all humans deserve, is being assisted and helped somehow. This happens in the form of a practice, which cannot be described other than being a neo-colonialist approach, largely consisting of charity, which perpetuates the dependency on handouts.

The UNs’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and climate savings targets are well meant and crucial for collective survival. However, the official, institutionalized humanitarian system is incapable of being bold, fresh and innovative enough to cope with the task of reaching out to the over three billion poor in the world. Nor to the millions forced into displacement and migration because of conflict, climate change, extreme poverty and exploitation.

Structures of the 20th century versus Challenges of the 21st

Institutions, NGOs and agencies of all sorts addressing the worlds’ challenges, are creations of the 20th century, built on the concepts of the Red Cross, post-World War II CARE packages and later “Doctors without Borders”. UN agencies copied and pasted those ideas and became operational, but are lacking the expertise in many crucial fields to build resilient and sustainable communities. These structures may have been adequate in a world without comprehensive connectivity and online communication, and failure was thus excusable. Today those have become largely obsolete and failure may not be an option anymore!

Time has come to build the organization of the 21st century, which must consist of a network of resources and knowledge without headquarters and without a bureaucracy justifying and feeding itself. It must be a global corporation and coalition of the likeminded, without reporting to a central board and without delays in transmission of crucial information on needs and resources. The organization of this century is decentralized, yet on a common knowledge and resource sharing concept, building on existing opportunities. This organization shall bring together the providers of finance, technology and knowledge where and when needed and likewise dissolving these structures again when they are not needed anymore.

This concept is based on the fact that we have the resources and the knowledge to resolve most humanitarian challenges already. Those resources simply need to travel across the globe to connect faster and more efficiently. Effective communication and matching capability is needed.

Building on what our economic system is good or bad for, requires a more effective use and recognition of available assets. Here it should not matter whether those are financial, cultural, environmental or technical in kind.  In this century, existing and proven business models need to be combined with social and ecological sustainable solutions to provide communities with dignity and quality of life.

Zaatari refugee Camp in Jordan (2013) / Source: Kilian Kleinschmidt

Making use of the Internet-of-Things for Relief

Today, there is comprehensive technological expertise available in the world to design such integrated solutions and ecosystems, combining and customizing those solutions in the best interest of the people and the environment in any part of the world. Those may range from urban renewal and revitalization programs to rural revival, energy solutions, creative industries or assistance in times of crisis.

All it needs is incubation, acceleration and building up-to-date alliances and connections:

  • It takes small global central think tanks and accelerator teams, scanning the world for relief opportunities and partnerships, helping in building the initial synapsis to global knowledge and resources.
  • It requires local “docking stations” wherever opportunities and challenges need to be addressed, which are capable of mentoring and pooling the resources. Here anyone can become that hub, if equipped with online connectivity and access to resources.
  • It needs a global resource pool and matchmaking tool, making global resources visible and available to all.

Each single and readily available opportunity and idea can transform into a separate entity, company, organization, or initiative as required, while being supported by the globally available pool of knowledge, capital and technologies. To pull these intelligent tools of the 21st century together, we are using innovative collaboration platforms such as “Linkando”, for example ( The already existing Internet-of-Things (IoT) and swarm intelligence concepts and systems must also serve to achieve the SDGs and to ensure a more effective humanitarian response.

This means that building the relief organization of the 21st century does not cost more than just bringing together centrally operating small global teams to establish all the relevant connections online. All other required resources will then be financed separately and in differing ways, whether by a fund, donators, a company, an organization, the global resource pool and more.

Those global action teams need the worlds’ best thinkers and enablers: this might be fifteen, or twenty people only. Such labs need capability to design innovative financing models, rethink equity and assets, access leaders and policy makers, draw on knowledge about social inclusion, technology, humanitarian and development challenges, logistics, legal matters, renewable energies and economics. It requires teams, which are both globally mobile and multi-functional.

This new approach will result in a bargain to change the world, yet we must change the paradigms directing our current approaches towards the sharing of wealth and global solidarity!

Picture: Kilian Kleinschmidt / Source: Kilian Kleinschmidt

About the author: Kilian Kleinschmidt worked for the World Food Program (WFP) und the UN High Commissariat for Refugees (UNHCR) for 25 years. He worked in Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War and helped organize a camp for the Lost Boys of Sudan. He was in Mogadishu in 1993 during the Battle of Mogadishu. He spent two years in Sri Lanka as a liaison to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels. He also coordinated the rescue of Rwandan Hutu refugees caught in the rain forests of Congo in 1997 for UNHCR. He repaired an old railroad built by the Belgians, and used a train powered by a steam locomotive to rescue many of the refugees. He has also worked as the Deputy UNHCR representative in Kenya and deputy to the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for assistance to Pakistan.

He took over as the ‘Senior Field Coordinator’ for UNHCR at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, in 2013. He was tasked with restoring order in the second largest refugee camp in the world. After a 25-year stint with the UN, he founded his own aid consultancy called Switxboard. He also serves as a consultant on refugee matters to the Austrian Ministry of the Interior.

*The perspectives provided in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily constitute a policy statement, or the opinion of the CIMIC Centre of Excellence on the topic.

Observations from a civilian student and lecturer at the CCOE

By Esther Van der Woerdt

From 24th -28th, October 2016, I participated as student and lecturer in the NATO CIMIC Functional Specialist course at the CCOE.

As humanitarian aid workers whose work, security and success are highly dependent on the perception and acceptation by locals, we abide by the key principles of humanity, impartiality, but maybe even more importantly: neutrality and independence. As a result, the humanitarian community is often reluctant to work with, or to be perceived as working with the military. This perception could considerably jeopardise our work, our safety and security. However, since we all work in the same space, are dealing with the same constraints and opportunities, and are often quite interdependent, it is important that we understand the other actors in the field better and vice versa. Therefore, I was intrigued when the staff officer for Training & Evaluation offered me free participation in the October NATO CIMIC Functional Specialist Course in return for my lecture on insights into the humanitarian world.

The week turned out to be very interesting indeed: on the first day we discussed, among other topics, cross-cultural differences and the importance of being aware of those between the military and the local environment but also between the military and the other actors in the field. I found this very useful because it gave me confidence that cultural differences are also being taken into consideration in military operations and that functional specialists are able to work with or around those differences. As humanitarian workers are not usually trained in this competence but need to master it as well, I realized that this training could be useful for those leaving for a first humanitarian mission as well.

On the first day, we were also presented with a scenario for which we would receive assignments throughout the week. Our group was assigned to do the agricultural assessment of the training country Tythan and to suggest a plan of action for the commander by the end of the week. Herein, I felt very much at ease, as this was fairly close to my fields of interest, as in my civilian work we also often need to distil essential information from a large amount of multifarious sources.

Picture: Students of the NCFSC during la lesson / Source: CCOE/ Dube

The practical session regarding the overall assignment, during which one role player was acting as an NGO, with another one interpreting for the functional specialists, was very useful as well: it provided insight into the NGO-world for my co-trainees, provided for an excellent opportunity to test some of the participants’ negotiation skills, and taught us how to work with interpreters. The latter two skills are obviously very useful for the humanitarian field as well. What struck me as non-military in particular, was the ultimate aim of the exercise to provide the commander with comprehensive information to come to an informed decision coherent with his intent and overall mandate. In the humanitarian world, the hierarchy is often less obvious: however, often you write a proposal to create an interest or to push donor funding, and in that sense, you could compare these decision makers and their function for the effort.

During the second day, the ‘NGO day’, I experienced how genuinely interested my military co-trainees are in the work which NGOs conduct, and how they really made an effort to understand it. However, I still feel that we cannot stress enough that we have different mandates and different approaches to a given situation. And in order to be able to do our work, we often need to keep a certain distance from the military. It was also important for them to understand that when the military steps into the NGO field of work, despite its very best intentions, this will often not be appreciated, for the reasons mentioned above.

Apart from the training itself, the social events, such as the visit to The Hague, the icebreaker and dinner were also a big plus for achieving the final goal of the training, namely to raise the students’ mutual awareness and knowledge on Civil-Military Cooperation. For me, this course has contributed greatly to improve my understanding of why military forces do certain things the way they do, and I believe that it has also contributed to the mutual understanding of mandates, reasons, jargon etc. Certain aspects of the training would also be useful for any first mission humanitarian staffer, such as the cross-cultural awareness training or the communication skills training. Therefore, I encourage other humanitarian workers to participate as well.

Picture: Esther van der Woerdt / Source: Esther van der Woerdt

About the Author: At the time of her course, Esther van der Woerdt worked as an emergency coordinator with UNICEF (United Nations’ Children’s Fund) Netherlands.

UNICEF Netherlands is responsible for fundraising, communication and advocacy for children’s rights in the Netherlands.

Previously, she had worked for UN agencies such as UNICEF, WHO, WFP and for NGOs as CORDAID and MSF in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Her field experience spans 12 years in mostly French speaking countries in Africa, such as Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Mauritania, but also in Nepal, Haiti, Kenia and Liberia.

Esther has received Masters’ degrees both in European Studies and in Humanitarian Assistance.


CCOE 10th Anniversary October 10th, 2017

With the motto “From the Protection of Culture to the Protection of Civilians”, the CIMIC Centre of Excellence will celebrate its 10th Anniversary on October 10th, at its premises at Brasserskade in The Hague. The date highlights the initial full accreditation of the CIMIC Centre as a Centre of Excellence by NATO in 2007. Today, the 10th Anniversary marks the premier communication and presentation event of the CCOE for the current year.

Picture: Colonel (GS) Wolfgang Paulik Director CCOE / Source: CCOE/Dube

The claim “From the Protection of Culture to the Protection of Civilians” sets the tone for the invitational event, as it will feature an arc of key-notes, guests and honorees, representing the development of CIMIC and the CCOE through several decades.

Within a fast changing environment and ever more emerging demands on Civil-Military Interaction, this event is geared to present the accomplishments of CIMIC as much as pointing to the future of CMI and the protection of civilians.

On the occasion of this highlight event, the CCOE will also inaugurate its annual “CIMIC Award of Excellence”, honoring outstanding individuals, or institutions, and their contributions to CIMIC and CMI throughout the globe.

Further details on the program, speakers and distinguished guest will be made available once they have been finalized.

Article by CCOE/ LTC Tilman Engel

The CCOE CIMIC Messenger is a publication of the CIMIC Centre of Excellence. Ist dedicated aim is to provide a Forum or platform for stimulating and presenting innovative and comprehensive thinking on NATO CIMIC and Civil-Military Interaction (CMI) related issues such as Mission experiences, concepts, doctrine or lessons learned. The views and opinions expressed or implied in the CCOE CIMIC Messenger are those of the authors and should not be constued as carrying the official sanction of NATO, of any national armed Forces or those of CCOE.

“See you in The Hague!”