Getting “Do No Harm” to Stick: Successes, Failures and Varied Approaches

March 2019 | Peter Woodrow and Isabella Jean

This summary of lessons draws from several decades of CDA’s efforts to diffuse the Do No Harm (DNH) Framework as widely as possible and to support its application and integration by humanitarian and development actors. This brief paper recounts the range of methods we have used, their successes, and challenges. CDA has been lauded by others as the ‘guardian’ of DNH lessons and analytical framework and for contributing to the transformation of discourse on conflict-sensitivity in the aid sector. We have learned that changes in rhetoric and policy documents do not always result in sustained changes in practice, norms, and incentives. The lessons outlined in this paper are relevant to organizations in the aid sector that focus on changing norms, practices and policies in an effort to improve the processes and results of their support to local actors and communities in conflict- , disaster- and poverty-affected contexts.