Author Archives: Peter Walker

Politically incorrect language: Real Victims

The use of the term victim to describe the people aid agencies seek to assist has rather gone out of vogue. In the 90’s in was viewed as politically incorrect. It had connotations of helplessness and dependency. We started to … Continue reading

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Africans strike back.

Sometimes you come across an initiative in the humanitarian world which hits you like a breath of fresh air. The New Partnership for African Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies http://www.neparcafrica.org/ is just such an initiative. Second class partners For … Continue reading

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Short term life saving or long term change?

(Photo: UNICEF) I was putting together a short note this week for a training session on humanitarian principles, and came across a couple of wonderful phrases on an ICRC website. Referring to the principle of Humanity: Humanity is an “optimistic … Continue reading

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Surviving Earthquakes

Earthquake lessons The Chinese newspaper Nanfang Zhoumo recently asked me to pen some thoughts one what other countries and cities had learned from their earthquake response efforts. Since most of us do not read Mandarin, I thought it would be … Continue reading

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Suffering is a profitable business

Some years ago when I first read Samantha Power’s book on genocide A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide I remember being so shocked, not just by the descriptions of appalling cruelty, apathy and duplicity but by … Continue reading

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The Right to Eat: What Drives the Food Crisis?

The present flurry of activity around steeply rising world food prices exemplifies in many ways a critical failing in the way we collectively perceive modern crises. Discussions in London yesterday and previously within aid agencies and even the FAO have … Continue reading

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Climate Change, Humanitarian Action and Complexity

There are two ways to view Climate Change one is via classic science which attempts to predict what climate change will do to weather patterns and from this river flows, sea level rise, ecologies and the like, and thence on … Continue reading

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Humanitarian Success!

All too often those in the humanitarian world see the cut half empty. Maybe it is as a result of working in a business that is about constant problem-solving, crises and distress. So last week, at the prompting of some … Continue reading

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Arms and the Man: The Role of the Military in Disaster and Humanitarian Response

I was at a conference last week in Washington looking, once again, at the role the (US) military sees for itself in disaster and humanitarian response. It bought home to me just how muddled our thinking can be on this … Continue reading

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Spin and reality in Iraq

This week we have been forcefully reminded how easy it is to forget reality and believe the spin. On Thursday IMF made optimistic noises about Iraq’s economy, pointing to rises in oil export figures and a 7% growth in the … Continue reading

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