I. Context and Gaps to be addressed

LAW, with the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is implementing a first of its kind project, that aims to bring legal support to aid workers victims of acts of violence, and to hold accountable the perpetrators of these crimes. By employing creative legal strategies, the boundaries of impunity can be pushed, sending a strong message to perpetrators that these attacks will not continue unchallenged, resulting in a safer environment for all.

The project will seek to address the four major gaps that appear to prevent aid workers and their organisations to seek justice:

  • A lack of knowledge amongst donors, national and international humanitarian organisations and their staff of the range of legal mechanisms and processes available to survivors and the families of victims, depending on the circumstances of each case.
  • The very limited resources available to provide legal assistance and representation for aid workers who wish to pursue justice and accountability.
  • A limited understanding of the major barriers that organisations and aid workers face to getting involved in legal action.
  • The lack of tools and guidance for organisations on how to deal with an incident, particularly in relation to ensuring that relevant evidence is preserved, and that legal advice is sought at the earliest opportunity.

The project implementation is focusing on four countries, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Central African Republic. However, while the research described here should specifically include input from national organisations in these countries, it will not be limited in its overall geographical focus.

II. Planned research and methodology

To start addressing concerns and confusion around accountability for aid workers who are victims of atrocities, and to provide impactful legal aid to victims and their families who wish to seek justice, detailed research will be undertaken to identify the most common obstacles facing humanitarian organisations and their staff in pursuing justice and accountability. The objective of the research is to fully understand why very few aid workers are supported to pursue legal action, through surveying a wide range of national and international organisations and donors. This will also include the confidential gathering of information from organisations that have attempted to pursue justice and accountability.

More specifically, the research will include the following activities:

  1. Open-source research on existing information about barriers for aid workers to access justice, including research on existing guidelines for reporting attacks on aid workers and response mechanisms, as well as any legal proceedings and their outcome
  2. Survey with national and international NGOs as well as umbrella organisations.
  3. Engagement with donors, to see their understanding of the barriers of access to justice and underreporting of attacks, as well as their role against impunity in these cases, as they perceive it.

The main deliverable of this research will be the publication by November 2023 of a report analysing the barriers to accessing justice for aid workers victims and survivors of attacks and providing concrete recommendations on how to overcome them. This report will be disseminated amongst aid workers, humanitarian organisations and humanitarian donors.

Research Questions

The purpose of this survey and consultations is to find out more on the below key points:

  • The barriers to reporting an incident of an attack/violence against an aid worker, for organisations and for the aid workers concerned.
  • The barriers, if an incident is reported, to accessing justice.
  • The actors involved in these different layers of barriers.
  • The level of lack of knowledge and understanding of justice avenues available.
  • The level of underreporting caused by these barriers.
  • If staff (national and international) trust the employer organisation with responding to incidents of violence.
  • If supervisors encourage or not (and why) their staff to report and seek justice avenues.
  • The trust in the justice system (as perceived) in different locations.


The methodology proposed here presents the main aspects on which the research will be based and can be changed or adjusted, according to the needs, the proposals of externals consultants and other actors involved. A detailed document focused on the methodology will be accompanying the activities. Below are the main aspects of the methodology and actors involved for the three activities listed above.

  1. Open-source research. This will be research of publicly available sources, that can provide information and/or qualitative data on the underreporting of cases of attacks against aid workers, as well as their challenges to access justice. This will be mainly undertaken by LAW team.


  1. Survey of international and national NGOs and umbrella organisations. The methodology to use under this activity will include key informant interviews (KIIs) and focus groups discussions (FGDs), as appropriate. The target group of this activity will be both national staff, mainly based in the field, and international staff, including senior management, of national and international humanitarian organisations. It is important to include national staff targeted by violence, and if possible, their supervisors, in KIIs. Family members of victims can also be consulted, depending on the circumstances. The number of persons to be consulted, as well as the best fitting methodology for each group and individual will be proposed by the consultant and cleared by LAW. An initial number of 80 participants consulted is proposed to begin with.


  1. Engagement with donors. This will allow to assess humanitarian donors’ understanding of the barriers to access justice and the cause of the underreporting of attacks, as well as their role in the existence of these barriers. This will be undertaken only by LAW with a specific questionnaire designed with the support of the consultant.

IV. Timeframe

The above activities are expected to start early April 2023. Preliminary findings will be introduced to key stakeholders and participants in June 2023. A mapping of stakeholder has been undertaken by LAW and will be shared with the consultant.

Activity Lead (Tentative) March April May June 2023
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12  
Open-source research LAW                          
Recruitment of consultant LAW                          
Mapping of respondents Consultant

LAW support

Drafting of methodology, design of coding and interview records tools Consultant                          
Development of research tools (KII and FGD questions) and analysis framework Consultant                          
Send invitations to consultations (FGDs and interviews)                            
Conduct of interviews Consultant and LAW                          
Compilation of results and preliminary analysis Consultant                          
Analysis of preliminary results LAW                          
Dissemination of preliminary findings LAW                          
Continuation of research Consultant and LAW                          
Compilation of results Consultant                          
Analysis and drafting of report Consultant and LAW                          
Dissemination of report LAW                          

V. Data collection and protection:

Due to the sensitivity of the research undertaken, the following will be specifically taken into account and included in the detailed methodology developed for the conduct of this research:

  • Consent forms and script to be followed by all researchers to describe the project and ensure informed consent of the participants.
  • Criteria for participants anonymity, and limit of the anonymity (can their position in an organisation, or their organisation, or the country where they operate, be made public for example? Should all participants be fully anonymous?).
  • Additional confidentiality mechanisms and trauma informed approaches used to specifically protect victims of crimes included, if any.
  • Database used for the storage of the information collected.

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