This article analyses the case of the steering committees established by the Italian NGO INTERSOS in Lebanon following 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah. They are proposed here as an example of transformative humanitarianism which is able to fully respect the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence, acting at the same time as a mean to strengthen state’s authority, and to reinforce the linkages between the central government and the local civil society. Obviously the experience which will be described in this article is deeply rooted in the context of Lebanon, however some relevant features could prove extremely useful in other areas of intervention.
The forced displacement of 2.2 million persons during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) was not a by-product of war but served the purpose of ethnic cleansing. An important aspect of redress for forced migration and displacement is the right of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to freely choose among three durable solutions: repatriation/return, integration, and resettlement. In the context of post-Dayton BiH, this right has been an artificial one as it has been exercised in a political environment that prioritises return. The goal of reversing ethnic cleansing through return has dominated what should be a neutral humanitarian process focused on the needs of individual refugees and IDPs. Weak conditions for sustainable return combined with the absence of alternatives to return have left many Bosnians without access to any durable solution. There is an urgent need to depoliticize the humanitarian space and to provide refugees, IDPs and returnees with genuine options.
The Violence Against Women Unit of the Attorney General’s Office is the first of its kind in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It is also the first specialized system response to the issue of violence against women that was designed with the voices of the victims echoing throughout the process. This article, written by the Gender Justice Adviser who assisted in planning the VAW Unit, discusses the results of an in-depth focus group conducted with women victims of violence. The article shines light on the issues affecting the investigation and prosecution of crimes against women from the victim-perspective, provides narratives about women’s experiences of violence and the current and continuing formal and informal system responses to crimes against women and explores the recommendations for future reforms from women victims of violence themselves.
Based on interviews and field work in Rwanda over the course of two years, this article argues that genocide survivors have been excluded from the human rights guarantees and protections offered to refugees and asylum seekers experiencing persecution and threat to their lives and welfare. It illustrates how genocide survivors are subject to unique psychological and social vulnerabilities, including psycho-social trauma and high levels of chronic stress which impede their capacity to rehabilitate themselves and rebuild their lives. Many are forced to live in the same neighborhoods and villages as the genocidaires that raped and tortured them as well as their families and friends, and who murdered many of their closest kin. This is an intrinsically psychologically destabilizing position which burdens and overwhelms genocide survivors, subjecting them to continuous retraumatization. Consequently, it argues that genocide survivors should be granted special privileged immigration rights to resettlement outside of Rwanda.
This paper examines issues concerning forced displacement of people in Colombia and Liberia within the context of 20th-century internal armed conflicts. It explores how displacement is related to group identities such as gender and age, and it examines the displacement crisis in Colombia and Liberia. It argues that a commitment–implementation gap, or the failure of Colombia and Liberia to implement effective strategies to meet their commitment to global norms and principles as stipulated in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, limits these countries’ ability to manage their displacement crisis effectively.
Advocacy is at the heart of conflict-related humanitarianism. Yet, nowadays when referred to this field, it seems to have lost its value-neutral denotation and its original and positive meaning. This paper claims that especially in its public form advocacy has become a ‘good word gone bad’. The discussion seeks to evidence that today advocacy has assumed a negative connotation due to its widespread political interpretation, denouncing strategy, aggressive approach and visibility goals. The analysis attempts to highlight the main reasons behind this deviation, to explain and interpret it through conceptual and theoretical frameworks and to outline the challenges, limits and dilemmas that it has engendered. The examination of two examples tries to shows the feasibility of advocacy initiatives framed within its original and positive meaning. Together with the study of other examples the paper concludes with few potential stimuli to the future reflections on the contours of this core humanitarian function.
A new paradigm is needed in the 21st century for conceptualizing the right to asylum as a basic right of humanity, a right conceptualized by Arendt from her perspective as a mid-century stateless person as the right to have rights. This revised paradigm must include certain features which haven’t been well-articulated in the 20th century right to asylum, historically based in Europe as the right of non-refoulement. This paper argues that the right to asylum of those fleeing genocide is based on humanity’s central, weighty interests in not being killed or traumatized in the fleeing of murder or in the witnessing of death by starvation, disease, murder or animal attacks, as well as in being restored to a level of physical and psychological health required for the exercise of capacities for personhood, community and citizenship. My argument is that the combination of the centrality and weight of these interests combined with the relative powerlessness of those fleeing genocide outweigh the conflicting interests of developed countries to sustain their level of material wealth and to protect their culture and national ethos from those who wish to seek asylum in their countries.
According to the World Food Program (WFP) and The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the population growth was 2.77% per year and the estimated population in Ethiopia was 79.24 million in mid-year 2008 (FAO/WFP 2008:10). This estimation showed a significant population growth in Ethiopia. The second factor pertains to the unequal distribution of the population in Ethiopia which results in regions with high density of population having more demand for food. In this regard 36.7% of the Ethiopian population lives in Oromyia region, followed by the Amara region with 23.3% and the SNNP region with 20.4% (CSA 2008:10). These highly populated regions have a higher demand for food and have more propensity to develop starvation crises. During July 2008, 75,000 children were reported to be affected by Acute Severe Malnutrition and the prospect was worse for the rest of the year; Oromyia and SNNPR were the hot spots (OCHA 2008:1). Demographic factors may play an important role but there would need to be additional factors to account for the increase in food security since they cannot alone cause malnutrition.
Based upon a wide literature that shows little evidence of linkages between terrorism and poverty this paper suggests that the US government’s efforts over the past eight years in redirecting its aid to tackle terrorism through the lens of poverty alleviation are doomed to ineffectiveness on both counts. Instead the paper suggests emphasizing the means by which aid is delivered, focusing on appropriate grassroots mechanisms, community engagement and ownership over the current obsession with measurable metrics. Implemented accordingly, foreign aid can both reduce poverty and be an effective tool against violent extremism. What follows are four key recommendations to transform US foreign assistance into a more effective tool in the fight against poverty and violent extremism.
This paper explores the science and politics of counting excess Iraqi civilian casualties of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. The exact number of Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the war is not known, and perhaps will never be known. The deaths of nearly one million Iraqi civilians remain disputed by governments and non-governmental organizations worldwide. The first part of this paper analyzes the reasons behind this dispute, and argues that the counting of excess Iraqi civilian casualties has not been treated as an unbiased scientific endeavor, but rather, as a means of reinforcing political agendas. The dispute over deaths is further adding to the injustice already experienced by the Iraqi people. Therefore, the second part of this paper calls for greater accountability by states to civilian populations during war to prevent a repeat of such injustice from occurring to civilian populations of future wars. The aim of this paper is not to provide practical suggestions for improving counting methodologies. Rather, this paper takes a broader view of the issue and calls for greater accountability by the US and its allies is response to Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion.