Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), under the protection of the US
army; the town of Qabassin during ISIL’s rise to power and, lastly, the
government-controlled areas around Damascus. This account relates MSF’s work
in each of these four areas. Occasional references are made to other MSF operational
centres (Belgium, Spain, Holland and Switzerland), which carried out independent
relief operations, while endeavouring
don’t have the power to make good on whatever has
been agreed. And this is assuming major Western governments still believe it to be important to
support relief agencies.
The political landscape in which the humanitarian movement took current form has changed
radically. Even a ‘centrist restoration’ in the US and Europe might not be enough
to prevent this movement’s relative decline. In Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The
Leopard , one of the principle characters says of the revolutionary era in which the
novel is set: ‘For things to remain the same
Corporations, Celebrities and the Construction of the Entrepreneurial
Annika Bergman Rosamond and Catia Gregoratti
beyond borders. Yet, UNHCR-endorsed
corporate and celebrity humanitarians are located within immense privilege and
power, as well as being immersed in the colonial, gendered and capitalist logics of
humanitarianism, rather than being wedded to the transformation of the global order
and decoloniality ( Bergman Rosamond,
2015 , 2016 ). Directly relevant is
also the contention that humanitarian actors, many of whom are located within a
neoliberal feminist logic
In ‘Myths of Violence’, Brad Evans offers a possible explanation of what motivates solidarity with migrants and asylum seekers in Europe. For Evans, instead of the privilege of absolute power, violence is the outcome of asymmetric freedom, ‘the freedom to punish and destroy … over the freedom to resist or … to flee’. With reference to Gilles Deleuze, he argues that oppression not only denies the rights of the oppressed but restricts their movement. He challenges a conception of ‘the political’ that he feels legitimises the continuation of violence in
The Politics of ‘Proximity’ and Performing Humanitarianism in Eastern DRC
2012 to 2013. The province epitomises Richards’ ( 2005 ) ‘no-peace-no-war’, characterised by ‘stable instability’: cyclical violence with a ‘militarized’ everyday social environment ( Verweijen, 2016 ). A shifting patchwork of over one hundred armed groups operates in eastern DRC – embedded in social and political networks which straddle both ‘state’ and ‘non-state’ spheres ( Verweijen, 2016 : 11).
MSF project sites are governed by an array of evolving networks: power is exercised through alliances between actors who ‘partially stand in opposition and partially
Uses and Misuses of International Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian
first effort was the above-mentioned diplomatic conference, which started in 1864.
Less than two years had elapsed between the publication of his account and the
conference; that is to say, the project had resonated favourably both in the halls
of power and in public opinion, and imperial France seemed particularly open to it.
The first president of the new humanitarian society was a former officer in Napoleon
III’s army: Swiss general Guillaume-Henri Dufour.
This serves as a
The Law and Politics of Responding to Attacks against Aid Workers
Julia Brooks and Rob Grace
precise, and hence, could be less powerful. Conversely, involving fewer organisations could lead to a more forceful statement but sacrifices the power that could result from speaking with a more expansive, collective voice.
Donor dynamics further complicate these issues. For NGOs reliant on donor funds from the same states that might be targets of advocacy, it can be harder to take a forceful stance because these NGOs might perceive that they lack, as one interviewee commented, ‘the ability, or the comfort level, to really speak out’, except in ways that are ‘more
attack – both squarely within the model of ‘stranger danger’.
However, research on workplace sexual assault in the United States identifies
working in isolated contexts, temporary work status, male-dominated jobs and
settings with significant power differentials – all relevant to humanitarian
work – as conducive to harassment and assault (see Humanitarian Outcomes, 2019b : 17n12).
Women aid workers especially face more quotidian forms of harassment and abuse, such
action more broadly ( Heerten, 2017 ). In
addition, seemingly altruistic technological interventions in humanitarian contexts
often go alongside the expansion of state or military power and new mechanisms of
surveillance and control ( Jacobsen, 2015 ).
More generally, as long as major technological innovations are largely driven or
developed by the Global North, they are bound to perpetuate existing global
inequalities, as evident, for example, in the field of digital
A Model for Historical Reflection in the Humanitarian Sector
Kevin O’Sullivan and Réiseal Ní Chéilleachair
‘more open to the need for an awareness of those many “others”
whose ways of thinking are so different from ours’ ( Hall, 2017 : 254). For aid workers, it should lead to a
greater questioning of the contexts in which the humanitarian sector operates, at
headquarters and in the field, as well as the processes that have helped to shaped
them and the deep-rooted power relationships that underpin them.
We can also read these debates as part of a longer-term trend