As Myanmar opens up ‘ethnic’ areas for international aid, foreign actors risk undermining existing service structures and falling short of ‘Do No Harm’ standards.
Based on the realization that aid can have both positive and negative impacts on conflict, the ‘Do No Harm’ (DNH) framework provides a seven step process which aid actors are implored to undertake to ensure that their programs are doing more of the former than then latter.
Naturally, as international non-governmental organizations have been permitted greater legitimated access to Myanmar’s conflict-affected regions by the military dominated government, the term ‘do no harm’ has become a common linguistic feature of the many interventions being initiated.
However, the extent to which programs are actually being designed around DNH doctrine is starkly questionable given the lack of proper analysis into the actual determinants of ongoing conflicts. DNH provides a conflict analysis tool that seeks to understand what the main schisms in society are that have led to conflict, and then what proximate factors exacerbate those divisions (dividers), and which can help to ameliorate them (connectors). Thus, without in-depth analysis of these factors, any claims that a ‘do no harm’ approach is being implemented appear little more than shallow uses of the right buzz words.