Shrinking humanitarian space describes the situation where the changing nature of armed conflict and the geopolitical shifts, particularly since 9/11, combine to inhibit the provision of humanitarian assistance. By conflating unproven assumptions about unrelated challenges under this single heading, humanitarian organizations have generated an unnecessarily gloomy outlook on future prospects for their security and access. There is no conclusive evidence that humanitarian space is declining over time; the blurring of boundaries between humanitarianism and other international responses to conflict often does more good than harm; and in seeking to maximize security and access, emphasis should be focused on practical strategies rather than simply on the reassertion of traditional humanitarian principles.
Religious organizations are increasingly visible in development and humanitarian aid, something which has been reflected in the emergence of a new strand of research, focusing on these organizations and their involvement in the provision of development and humanitarian aid. However, most of this literature centers on individual organizations, and there is a lack of systematic information about larger numbers of organizations: What distinguishes them from other organizations? What characterises them as a group? And does it even make sense to consider them as a group?