By Nirvana Bhatia
Master's candidate in Human Rights
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Ever wondered how to engage with tribal leaders, or how to park your car in a convoy during a humanitarian-aid mission?
Peter Van Arsdale and Derrin Smith's new book Humanitarians in Hostile Territory: Expeditionary Diplomacy & Aid outside the Green Zone explains everything necessary to a humanitarian relief mission, from organizing Provincial Reconstruction Teams to preparing a "bug-out bag."
"In addition to covering theory and practice, this is the only book that prepares you for the field from toe up to head," said Van Arsdale, a professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Smith is a lecturer at the Josef Korbel School.
Placing an emphasis on the importance of country teams, Van Arsdale and Smith draw on their experiences in conflict zones to provide valuable insight on the intersection between civilian and military aid projects.
"Like Doctors Without Borders, we do not believe in a simple pre-emptive interventionism but do believe in a kind of liberal interventionism, aimed collectively and proactively at helping the powerless in other countries who are faced with oppressive circumstances," write the authors in their book.
Given the increase in complex humanitarian emergencies recently, the book is particularly apt for individuals wanting to assist in volatile situations as it describes how to be an asset to the local populations instead of an additional burden on resources.
Students in Van Arsdale's Field Protocol and Survival class have been dependent on the book to help them prepare for their four-day humanitarian- relief simulation in Colorado's Lost Creek Wilderness.
"There are insights in the book that I would have otherwise overlooked," student Marc Gimbel said. "I feel more prepared for a field expedition after reviewing some of the small yet significant practical tools highlighted in the book."
Throughout the book, readers will find best practices and protocols meant to assist students and foreign professionals alike during their humanitarian work.
"We've read a whole bunch of books about things that don't work; we're trying to build
on that with things that do work," Van Arsdale said.