Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue

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Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
HD Centre Logo
Formation August 1999 (1999-08)
Type Non-governmental organization
Purpose Conflict prevention and resolution
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Executive Director
David Harland
Website www.hdcentre.org

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, otherwise known as the Henry Dunant Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, or HD, is a private diplomacy organisation based in Switzerland that assists in mediation between conflicting parties to prevent or end armed conflicts.[1] Founded in 1999, the aim of the organisation is to promote and facilitate dialogue among the leadership of the main belligerents.[2]

It also conducts research and analysis on mediation and peacemaking in support of its operational work to improve international efforts to secure and sustain peace. To do so, HD opens channels of communication and mediates between parties in conflict, as well as facilitates dialogue and provides support to the broader mediation and peacebuilding community.[3] HD will facilitate dialogue in both confidential settings as well as public ones.

It is headquartered in Geneva,[4] which is also the location of its Middle East and North Africa programme. HD has regional offices in Africa and Asia.


The initial intention of HD was to explore new concepts of humanitarian innovation by serving as a venue for dialogue on humanitarian issues - where discreet discussions could take place among those who could have a practical impact on humanitarian policy and practice.[5]

The organisation evolved this approach to include negotiations in support of humanitarian objectives[6] and aimed to create space for humanitarian activities in conflict environments. It quickly broadened, at the behest of conflicting parties in Aceh,[7] to include the resolution of the conflict through mediation and conflict prevention.

In July 2015, in recognition of its important role in the mediation of armed conflicts, HD was granted a special status [8] by the Federal Council of Switzerland. Through this status, HD was awarded certain privileges and immunities[9] intended to enable its peacemaking efforts worldwide.


The Founding Executive Director of HD was Martin Griffiths.[10] He led the organization for more than 10 years, from 1999 to July 2010, when he stepped down from his position. Griffiths was replaced for a brief period (July 2010 to March 2011) by Angelo Gnaedinger,[10] former Director General of the ICRC and the then HD Regional Director for the Middle East. Following this transitional period, David Harland was appointed as HD's new Executive Director in April 2011.


HD aims to bring parties together through mediation and dialogue on issues of common concern in conflict zones.[11]

More specifically, this includes the following activities:[12]

  • Open and maintain channels to or between parties to a conflict;
  • Help prepare environments for mediation and the resolution of armed conflict;
  • Facilitate dialogue in support of wider mediation and dialogue processes, and;
  • Provide support to other mediation initiatives through advice, people and operational assistance.

HD has been involved in peacemaking activities including mediation in Afghanistan,[13] Aceh (Indonesia), Burundi, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines,[14] Sudan,[15] Syria, Tunisia,[16] Uganda, the Central African Republic, Myanmar, Timor Leste, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia, Libya as well as in a large number of confidential operational projects.[17]

Support to the community of mediators[edit]

HD seeks to improve the practice of mediation and strengthen capacity within the community of mediators.[7]

Support activities include:

  • Promoting the sharing of experiences in the mediation sector:

HD collaborates with the United Nations, regional organisations such as the AU, ECOWAS, and ASEAN, governments, and civil society.

  • Developing new ways to approach the many issues that surround the topic of mediation:

HD has launched a series of publications including the Mediation Practice Series, which seeks to provide mediation practitioners with insight into how challenges have been addressed by others in order to help them prepare for the demands of mediation. The Oslo Forum Papers aim to advance thinking and debate on issues linked to armed conflict mediation and international peacemaking.

Networking in the mediation community[edit]

HD seeks to promote the sharing of experiences within the community of mediators and peacemakers at the Oslo Forum. Launched in 2003, the Oslo Forum is an initiative led by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and HD to improve practice in conflict mediation, and to enhance mediation as a profession.[18] The Oslo Forum features an annual global event in Oslo, as well as regional forums in Africa and Asia.

Values and principles[edit]

HD vision[edit]

The organisation was founded to pursue Henry Dunant’s vision of a world more humane. The aim, through mediation and dialogue, is to reduce the suffering caused by armed conflict in the world – where possible, to prevent such conflict; otherwise to help resolve it; or to mitigate its consequences.[11]

HD values and principles[edit]

HD embraces a set of values that foster integrity, professionalism and respect for diversity in all areas of its work. It subscribes to the core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and operational independence and are committed to respecting international principles in relation to human rights and humanitarian affairs.[11]


HD receives a combination of project earmarked contributions and unearmarked grants from approximately 25 different governments and multilateral institutions as well as a small number of foundations and private philanthropists.[19] In 2014, HD's annual income was 25 million Swiss Francs.[20]


  1. ^ "Home page". Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. 
  2. ^ Dowell, William (2 June 2009). "Orchestrating peace". GlobalPost. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Annual Report 2011. Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. 8 June 2012. p. 2. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Our venue". HD centre. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  5. ^ Allen Nan, Susan; Cherian Mampilly, Zachariah; Bartoli, Andrea (November 10, 2011). Peacemaking: From Practice to Theory. Praeger. pp. 114–116. ISBN 0313375763. 
  6. ^ "The discreet charms of the international go-betweens". The Economist. 3 July 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  7. ^ a b The discreet charms of the international go-betweens
  8. ^ "Le Conseil fédéral conclut un accord sur les privilèges et immunités avec le Centre pour le dialogue humanitaire". Confederation Suisse. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Federal Council concludes agreement with Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue on privileges and immunities". Noodls. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  10. ^ a b Annual Report 2010. Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. 16 June 2011. p. 5. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c Annual Report 2011, p. 2.
  12. ^ "Privatising peace". The Economist. 30 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  13. ^ Doucet, Lyse (19 June 2010). "Afghanistan peace conundrum flummoxes mediators". BBC. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  14. ^ Glang, Hader (22 September 2011). "Swiss-based NGO suggests solution for Mindanao conflicts". Zamboanga Today. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Ramsbotham, Oliver; Woodhouse, Tom; Miall, Tom (April 19, 2011). Contemporary Conflict Resolution (3rd ed.). Polity. p. 56. ISBN 0745649742. 
  16. ^ "Tunisie: 23 partis politiques signent une charte d'honneur pour les élections". Al Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  17. ^ "Mediation Projects". Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Retrieved 22 January 2013. 
  18. ^ "Let's Make a Deal". Foreign Policy. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  19. ^ "Funding HD". Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. 
  20. ^ Annual Report 2014 (PDF). HD Centre. p. 51. 

External links[edit]