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David Rieff

. If humanitarian certainties have been upended, it is not in Sri Lanka, or even Syria or Afghanistan, but in the NGO response to the migration crisis in Greece and in the Mediterranean. For here, whether they like it or not, when they rescue people at sea who are trying to get to Europe, relief NGOs are involved not just in caritative work, whose deontology is relatively straightforward ethically; here, they are important actors in a profound political struggle, whose outcome, along with the response or non-response to climate change, is likely to

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction
Michaël Neuman, Fernando Espada, and Róisín Read

‘irreducible uncertainties’ of the situations encountered by teams on the ground. As Champy argues ( Champy, 2018: 17 ), ‘when action is required in highly singular and complex situations, common solutions that can be automatically inferred from routines, rules or scientific knowledge, might lead to mistakes and damages. Indeed, the singularity of the situation may imply that… the situation does not allow for a high degree of certainty’. In such situations, transmission of knowledge between

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Brendan T. Lawson

violence to economic prosperity, are ‘presented as unambiguous and objective’ because they ‘are grounded in the certainty of numbers’. Such a conception of numbers is encapsulated by Desrosières (2001 : 348) when he talks of ‘metrological realism’. This viewpoint holds that ‘computed moments (averages, variances, correlations) have a substance that reflects an underlying macrosocial reality, revealed by those computations’. In other words, numbers reveal something about the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Sophie Roborgh

, and even physical presence of the verifying actor at the site of attack. The WHO’s SSA aims to capture ‘any and all attacks’ ( 2018 : 5), but pairs their relatively inclusive approach with strict verification protocols and a certainty-level differentiation method, without reflecting on the potential consequences of this approach ( 2018 : 19). Verification also leads to less incorporation of attacks among other initiatives, as visible

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Congolese Experience
Justine Brabant

to think about whether those loans were apt. As it is not my aim to single out any particular colleague or media outlet, I will use a few of my own errors and questions by way of example. One of the certainties and obvious facts I took with me during my early investigations in the Congo was this: that there was a distinction between civilians and combatants. My reasoning went more or less as follows: ‘Once I’m there, I’ll start with an article on civilian

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Megan Daigle, Sarah Martin, and Henri Myrttinen

); the COVID-19 pandemic only underlines how humanitarians, in our certainty that we can be solutions to crises of all kinds, can exhibit an inability or indeed unwillingness to perceive our own position within matrices of colonialism, white saviourism and gendered power relations – we can literally become the problem, bringing sickness with us from abroad to areas previously not affected by it. There is a clear need for a different framing of security threats based on a more

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Recognition, Vulnerability and the International
Kate Schick

in which we reside; it seeks also to understand the ways we come to know and the desires that underpin the philosophical journey towards comprehension (Kochi 2012 : 130). These desires are ‘often self-interested, culturally contingent and manipulative’ (Kochi 2012 : 130) and include the pursuit of security and certainty. Deeply rooted in liberal capitalist society, these desires are incompatible with Hegel

in Recognition and Global Politics
M. Anne Brown

, for the sufferer pain is a form of certainty intrinsic to being a body – which for others is transformable into a political weapon. For those who use it as a weapon pain is an assertion of domination which, because never able to be genuinely certain or secured, must be asserted again and again. As an instrument of political organisation, suffering is an obdurate reality, however unwieldy and evasive its boundaries, forms and significance can be. To draw attention to human rights practices as tools is also not to cast them as purely

in Human rights and the borders of suffering
Open Access (free)
M. Anne Brown

questions of abuse can gradually leave aside the universal-relative dichotomy. In the context of this discussion the chapter returns to some of the themes raised in Chapter 1 – the limited value of the push for certainty and the sometimes creative function of uncertainty, and the metaphor of conversation or dialogue (or multilogue, in James Tully’s term). While not quite clearing a path out of the universalist-relativist debate, a rich sense of dialogue offers at least a counterpoise or a place to start the unravelling of what seems an unnecessarily confined and too all

in Human rights and the borders of suffering
Meanings, Limits, Manifestations
Patrick Hayden and Kate Schick

consequence of the subject's desire for confirmation of its independence and self-certainty is that other subjects it encounters will resist extending recognition, because they too wish to claim their own independence. Self and other initially encounter each other as adversaries. This mutual resistance first precipitates a ‘life-and-death’ confrontation by which each self-consciousness seeks the destruction

in Recognition and Global Politics