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has been greatly exaggerated, then you will doubt that those changes are likely to pose any existential challenge to the humanitarian international, be it in terms of the efficacy of what relief groups do in the field or in terms of the political and moral legitimacy they can aspire to enjoy. But if, on the contrary, you believe that we are living in the last days of a doomed system – established in the aftermath of World War II and dominated by the US – then the humanitarian international is no more likely to survive (or to put the matter more

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Governing Precarity through Adaptive Design

Introduction Drawing its energy from the wave of New Left and counter-cultural radicalism of the 1960s ( Boltanski and Chiapello, 2005 ), an NGO-led direct humanitarian action pushed onto the international stage during the 1970s. The radicalism of this new anti-establishment sans frontières humanitarianism lay in its political challenge to the conventions of Cold War sovereignty. By being there on the ground it sought to hold sovereign power to account, witnessing its excesses while professing a face-to-face humanitarian solidarity with its

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
An Interview with Caroline Abu Sa’Da, General Director of SOS MEDITERRANEE Suisse

citizen movements that have been at the forefront of the emergency response. Similarly inspired by cosmopolitan ideals, these groups tend to use more political language than conventional NGOs, presenting their relief activities as a form of direct resistance to nationalist politics and xenophobia. As liberal humanitarianism is challenged in its European heartland, they are developing – through practice – a new model of humanitarian engagement. SOS MEDITERRANEE is an ad hoc citizen initiative founded in 2015 to prevent the death of people crossing the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction

distortions. And as liberal hopes for a pacific and technocratic utopia have taken leave of empirical reality, the assumption of progress has been sustained primarily through myth-making and cognitive gymnastics. Fake news is not the antithesis of liberal truth but its progeny. Nonetheless, the notion of liberal order is useful to the extent that it signals the role of liberal ideas and politics in the consolidation of Western hegemony and, more specifically, the expansion of American power. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, set out in 1941

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

. Refusing to answer journalists’ questions about current or past abductions, humanitarian organisations also tend to keep information from their own staff. Unless they personally know the managers handling the kidnappings, aid workers must rely on their organisation’s public version of the facts (i.e. ‘No comment’) and the more or less credible information that appears in the media, which may describe the horrendous conditions in which the hostages are being held and the payment of ransom to criminal and political networks ( Callimachi, 2014a , 2014b ; Kiser, 2013 ). In

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Humanitarianism in a Post-Liberal World Order

Introduction The modern global humanitarian system takes the form it does because it is underpinned by liberal world order, the post-1945 successor to the imperial world of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the global political and economic system the European empires created. Humanitarian space, as we have come to know it in the late twentieth century, is liberal space, even if many of those engaged in humanitarian action would rather not see themselves as liberals. To the extent that there is something constitutively liberal about

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Focus on Community Engagement

in Liberia; indirect mediation to chiefs in Sierra Leone. Inspired by the extended-case-study method developed by the Manchester School ( Gluckman, 1940 ), we illuminate our ethnography by paying attention to the long history of the relationship between power and population. The cases are presented chronologically in order to align with the history of the West Africa epidemic. In the first case, Sylvain Landry B. Faye details a case from Kolobengou, Guinea, in which Ministry of Health efforts to mobilise traditional and political elites clashed with locally

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Uses and Misuses of International Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Principles

issue for contemporary humanitarian action. This article is thus an historically informed contemplation on the political function of IHL and what we can expect from it. The Soldier, the Legal Expert and the Rescuer Let us begin with the first Geneva Convention, the starting point of contemporary IHL; it was signed on 22 August 1864 1 and did not even mention the word ‘humanitarian’. In ten articles occupying two pages, its subject (as reflected by its title) was ‘the amelioration of the condition of the wounded in armies in the field’. It can be summarised in just

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

Introduction All over the globe, fascism, racism and xenophobic nationalism are resurfacing in what we once thought of as ‘respectable’ democracies. Following a particularly bleak weekend at the end of October 2018 (the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, reports of worsening famine in Yemen, Israeli bombardment of Gaza and the murder of eleven worshippers at a refugee-harbouring synagogue in Pittsburgh), my colleague Dr Sara Salem of the London School of Economics tweeted: ‘It’s difficult watching political scientists scrambling to understand

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

, Collins Dictionary declared ‘fake news’ its word of the year. But most media scholars would prefer the term was removed from the English lexicon, as it is vague and can be deployed to advance a political agenda. Donald Trump famously uses the phrase ‘fake news’ to refer to a wide range of media content that he doesn’t like. And audiences take a similarly broad approach; in focus groups, Nielsen and Graves (2017) find that audiences define ‘fake news’ to include partisan journalism, propaganda and advertising as well as invented stories that

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs