Every year, numerous and typically large-scale humanitarian operations are conducted in areas where armed groups listed as “terrorist” organizations are active. International and domestic counterterrorism laws may affect humanitarian action in such situations. The interactions between counterterrorism objectives and humanitarian principles in these situations raise complex challenges for humanitarian and security actors, as well as policymakers.

Managed by HLS Senior Fellow Naz Modirzadeh, the Project on Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement (CHE Project) is a component of the Harvard Law School | Brookings Project on Law and Security. The CHE Project undertakes legal research, policy analysis, and engagement initiatives in order to identify and develop — as well as to facilitate networks to support — sustainable, principled, and practical solutions to the challenges of large-scale humanitarian operations conducted in areas where listed armed groups are active and where counterterrorism laws affect humanitarian action.

By utilizing the research expertise of the Harvard Law School and the innovative policy approaches of the Brookings Institute, the CHE Project seeks to inform and shape debate regarding the intersecting trajectories of counterterrorism norms and humanitarian action. The Project does so principally by:

  • Producing independent analyses of emerging and foundational challenges and opportunities concerning humanitarian engagement in situations involving listed non-state armed actors; and
  • Engaging actors across international humanitarian NGOs, intergovernmental agencies, academic centers, and governments to capture, examine, and inform their (sometimes overlapping and sometimes countervailing) perspectives and approaches.

The Counterterrorism and Humanitarian Engagement initiative at the HLS | Brookings Project on Law and Security receives generous support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.