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Editors’ Introduction
Tanja R. Müller and Gemma Sou

The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in Istanbul in May 2016 brought the theme of innovation to the fore yet again. Innovation in a broad sense has arguably always been at the heart of any humanitarian action, at least in the basic sense of the word, as having to constantly adapt and adjust to complex and unexpected situations – to ‘innovate’, in other words. In the understanding of the WHS and within the UN system more broadly, innovation was to be strongly linked to cost effectiveness and

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

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
David Rieff

starkly, be allowed to continue as currently constituted) than the other elements of that system. The reason for this should be self-evident: humanitarian action is an integral part of the system; indeed, it can be argued that for at least thirty years, the actions of relief agencies, above all the international private, voluntary ones, have served as the moral warrant for liberal globalisation. Only the human rights movement has been more central in this regard. 1 To be sure, the perceived need for relief NGOs to play this role has diminished over

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Four Decisive Challenges Confronting Humanitarian Innovation
Gerard Finnigan and Otto Farkas

( Burkle et al. , 2013 ). Such rapid growth adds greater strain to already limited local resources and increases the risk of harm from and vulnerability to natural hazard disasters and complex emergencies ( NAS, 2018 ; UNODRR, 2019 ). When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon convened the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in May 2016, he sought commitments from global leaders for new action, imperatives and direction for the humanitarian agenda. To deliver on the landmark

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Staff Security and Civilian Protection in the Humanitarian Sector
Miriam Bradley

Introduction In contemporary crises, a key aim of international humanitarian action is the protection of the civilian population. In the same contexts in which the protection needs of the local population are greatest, staff members of international humanitarian agencies may also come under threat themselves. Thus the organisations that seek to keep the local civilian population safe from physical violence are at the same time seeking to keep their own staff safe from physical

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

Introduction But of all our contemporary illusions, the most dangerous … is the idea that we live in a time without precedent . Tony Judt, Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century ( Judt, 2008 ) If some humanitarian-organisation spokespeople are to be believed, the norms and principles underpinning their action have been under attack since the end of the Cold War, which is endangering both humanitarian teams and the operations they conduct

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Paul Currion

). Garman , S. ( 2015 ) ‘ New Communications Technologies in Emergencies’ , in MacGinty , R. and Peterson , J. H. (eds), The Routledge Companion to Humanitarian Action ( Abingdon : Routledge ), pp. 440 – 52 . Gray , I. and Hoffman

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

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
Editor’s Introduction
Michaël Neuman, Fernando Espada and Róisín Read

authors criticised humanitarian organisations’ victim discourses – on the alleged growing threats to their work – and pointed out the weaknesses of the security-related statistics on which they relied. In the context of the bureaucratisation of the sector, they emphasised the political dimension of security management while introducing humanitarian action as a ‘prudential occupation’. In so doing, they were calling for the restoration of the notion of ‘practical wisdom’ to risk management in

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Model for Historical Reflection in the Humanitarian Sector
Kevin O’Sullivan and Réiseal Ní Chéilleachair

, respond to and ease suffering in times of crisis, taking a moment to reflect on various aspects of that response and to consider the humanity within humanitarian action can only be a positive step. Put simply, there is great value in asking what happened? How can we translate the considerable knowledge that has been accumulated in the humanitarian sector (from institutional memory to experiential learning) into informed decision-making at home and in the field? Could a more

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs