ABSTRACT: With the end of the Cold War, both the concept and practice of humanitarian action have significantly changed. The emergence of the so-called ‘complex humanitarian crises’ made it clear that traditional humanitarian responses based on the classical principles of impartiality and neutrality were not sufficient nor the most appropriate to respond to such complex [...]
ABSTRACT: Over 800 million people in 70 countries are classified as “food insecure.” Much humanitarian emphasis focuses on the negative physical consequences of food insecurity, neglecting its deleterious psychological effects. Negative perceptions of food security often coincide with acute mental distress, a complicating factor that intervention policies frequently overlook. This paper posits that understanding the [...]
International volunteerism is growing amongst healthcare workers. Although there are ethical principles governing medical volunteering, errors do occur and may in fact be increased in this setting. This article discusses the various legal challenges surrounding medical volunteering. Legal frameworks governing medical volunteering are unclear and vary between legal jurisdictions. Evidence suggests that the incidence [...]
Any discussion about an increase in inter-agency working particularly within the wider humanitarian aid and security sectors raise questions about the need for more collaboration. One key reason is the synergy required to effectively manage more complex and conflict ridden work environments whilst aiming to achieve increasingly difficult organizational objectives. Such organizations face [...]
This research paper explores the challenges of applying current legal protection frameworks, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, to the changing nature and patterns of contemporary armed violence. The research will focus on two case studies: civil unrest, examining the Arab Uprisings and protracted violence in Syria; and urban violence. It [...]
Providing aid to people in crisis is never enough—it must meet their most urgent needs and be grounded in sound science. Aid agencies have a responsibility to determine the effectiveness of their response and use evidence-based approaches. This article describes the history of Médecins Sans Frontières’ move towards professionalization in response to the challenges [...]
The paper explores the security incidents affecting medical humanitarian work in Yemen and the ways MSF as well as other health practitioners try to securitize their staff, facilities, patients. This reflection was born out of the high number of security incidents affecting MSF in the past three years, as much as a shared analysis [...]
In 2013, a climate of insecurity persists in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), despite the presence of the United Nations’ (UN) largest peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO.[i] DRC’s recent past saw armed groups mushrooming and successively challenging the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). In vast, contested areas, [...]
In today’s multi-faceted responses in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, and elsewhere in the future, the EU and its member states face a growing challenge to reconcile existing commitments to humanitarian principles with the ambition of comprehensive crisis management. This article examines the tensions between the EU’s commitment to humanitarian principles and current approaches to foreign policy at a time when the EU comprehensive approach is evolving rapidly at the levels of policy, debate and practice. Drawing on field perspectives from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the authors argue that co-existence of various EU crisis management tools in the field, in a context aimed at policy coherence, risks EU-funded humanitarian aid becoming, or being perceived as, a foreign policy tool. The very real consequences can include lack of humanitarian access to people in need, beneficiaries’ lack of access to assistance and biased provision of aid to different populations. The article concludes with specific recommendations for the EU and its member states to ensure a safe, distinct working space for humanitarian aid and thus the effectiveness of EU humanitarian responses to emergencies.
In the past decade the humanitarian system has had to respond to natural disasters and complex emergencies of increasing severity. In 2005, as an attempt to increase coordination amongst humanitarian actors and improve coherence in humanitarian response, the United Nations implemented a coordination mechanism called the Cluster Approach. The aim of this paper is to present common challenges of the Cluster Approach raised since its implementation and to provide lessons learned, based on the findings of a meta-analysis of 18 existing case studies, evaluations, and literature. The paper assesses progress the Cluster Approach has made toward meeting its intended goals, exposing different stakeholder perspectives and aggregating findings from various clusters and country contexts.