Contrary to popular myth, humanitarian neutrality and impartiality are not absolute concepts. Their application depends on the type of international actor involved, the mandate according to which that actor operates, and the nature and extent of the international crisis or humanitarian emergency that is being addressed. For future UN mandated action, clarification of these concepts and their proposed concrete application in relation to the target groups of the humanitarian operation in advance is required, if the disastrous dissonance between mandates and their implementation that appeared in instances such as Somalia and Bosnia is to be avoided.
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