Do No Harm (Local Capacities for Peace) - Brief Description


Since the end of the Cold War, international humanitarian and developmental assistance agencies have found themselves working increasingly in areas characterised by serious and often violent inter-group conflict. Many of these areas have become the sites of severe civilian-based civil wars, fought between subgroups of what had previously seemed to be a functionally cohesive society. Developmental cooperation with its activities and interventions cannot work neutrally in a conflict environment.

It has to be assumed that projects, programmes and other developmental actions impact the dynamics of conflicts.

In 1993, an international group of aid organisations commissioned the American NGO ‘Collaborative for Development Action’ (CDA) to look into this issue. CDA carried out a series of field studies in collaboration with bilateral donors, non-governmental agencies and UN agencies as part of the so-called ‘Local Capacities for Peace’ (LCP) Project. The result of this process is widely known as the Do No Harm concept.

Do No Harm is an analytical framework that can be translated into a set of working tools.

It provides an analytical and practical framework to explore how developmental interventions and conflict interact. Based on this awareness, the framework also assists in developing programming options to systematically support capacities for peace that connect people across conflicting lines.

The Do-No-Harm framework has four major components:

  1. To identify connectors and dividers as the most important categories of information, with which to assess the interaction of aid with conflict.
  2. To organise that information.
  3. To highlight relationships between the categories, therefore allowing the anticipation of likely outcomes of programming decisions.
  4. To generate possible options, and to test them.

The purpose of applying the ‘Local Capacities for Peace’ framework (Also known as the Do-No-Harm analysis) in a development policy context is:

  • To better understand how aid and conflict interact.
  • To avoid negative, conflict worsening effects of an intervention, i.e. aid that unintentionally exacerbates conflict (‘Do No Harm’).
  • To discover opportunities, in which people can be helped to disengage from violent conflict (‘Do Some Good’ - peace promotion).