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Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka, Kevin O'Sullivan, and Bertrand Taithe

Bertrand : I would like to start with a very simple question: why should we care about the history of the Biafran conflict today? Lasse: What I have tried to understand in my work is how the Nigerian civil war became a global issue. Initially of very marginal international interest, the conflict from around summer 1968 on was perceived as the epitome of humanitarian crisis. I wanted to understand how it has become this ‘Biafra’, how

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

-making at home and in the field? Could a more robust engagement with humanitarianism as an historical phenomenon help us to better navigate the contemporary aid environment? If so, what steps can we take to translate the lessons of the past into future policy? This article outlines the results of a pilot project conducted by Trócaire and National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway on using history as a tool for policy-making in the humanitarian sector. It begins

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs is an exciting, new open access journal hosted jointly by The Humanitarian Affairs Team at Save the Children UK, and Centre de Réflexion sur l’Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires MSF (Paris) and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester. It will contribute to current thinking around humanitarian governance, policy and practice with academic rigour and political courage. The journal will challenge contributors and readers to think critically about humanitarian issues that are often approached from reductionist assumptions about what experience and evidence mean. It will cover contemporary, historical, methodological and applied subject matters and will bring together studies, debates and literature reviews. The journal will engage with these through diverse online content, including peer reviewed articles, expert interviews, policy analyses, literature reviews and ‘spotlight’ features.

Our rationale can be summed up as follows: the sector is growing and is facing severe ethical and practical challenges. The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs will provide a space for serious and inter-disciplinary academic and practitioner exchanges on pressing issues of international interest.

The journal aims to be a home and platform for leading thinkers on humanitarian affairs, a place where ideas are floated, controversies are aired and new research is published and scrutinised. Areas in which submissions will be considered include humanitarian financing, migrations and responses, the history of humanitarian aid, failed humanitarian interventions, media representations of humanitarianism, the changing landscape of humanitarianism, the response of states to foreign interventions and critical debates on concepts such as resilience or security.

Open Access (free)
Digital Bodies, Data and Gifts
Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

humanitarian past, there is a brief account of the history of wristbands in refugee management and child nutrition to illustrate how tracking devices have been used for control and governance purposes. Section 4 offers an inventory of proposed aid uses of wearables – the central issue here is not present or future uses but what is imagined as possible, appropriate or useful interventions and – crucially – for whom? Section 5 reflects on how wearables challenge our basic

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

, civil wars and concentration camps. If there was ever a time in history where there was no regard for either the principle of mercy or the value of human life, it was the ‘short twentieth century’ (1914–91) – far more than the last thirty years. The supposed decline in humanitarian norms is assumed to have resulted from the changing nature of contemporary conflicts, which are now intra-, rather than inter-, national. It is true that most post-Cold War conflicts have been

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editors’ Introduction
Tanja R. Müller and Gemma Sou

pessimistic warnings about unintended consequences. Equally, there is a long history of how humanitarian endeavours have played a role in sustaining or exacerbating conflicts, where humanitarians intervened with the best moral and ethical intentions and principles but in the end were arguably pivotal in prolonging suffering, a pertinent example being the then ‘innovative’ humanitarian interventions in the secessionist war in Biafra that ended 50 years ago and has been a milestone in re

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
The Law and Politics of Responding to Attacks against Aid Workers
Julia Brooks and Rob Grace

, as Clements (2018) has examined, of the asymmetric power dynamics at play when humanitarians negotiate. Hard pressure, in the form of physical threats, is more readily available to many humanitarian negotiators’ counterparts, especially armed actors. Humanitarian actors can, and in many cases do, use armed protection to level the otherwise asymmetric field. A reading of the history of humanitarianism reveals operational linkages between humanitarian actors and armed actors to have a long and rich historical pedigree ( Pérouse de Montclos, 2014 ). Nevertheless

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Paul Currion

, but still we will not see any sustained returns; and unless we innovate a new financial model, then humanitarian innovation will be on life support from institutional donors indefinitely. Notes 1 In his history of humanitarianism Christopher Barnett (2013) pointed to ‘a growing list of essays and books by in-house critics and veteran aid workers’ on this topic; that list has only grown

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Gender Equality and Culture in Humanitarian Action
Ricardo Fal-Dutra Santos

Sphere Handbook ( The Sphere Project, 2004 ), also included similar considerations, largely in view of ensuring culturally appropriate responses. Although recent, humanitarianism’s attention to the respect for local cultures has been a welcome departure from its colonial origins and history of imposition of western values. Nonetheless, humanitarian actors may face a dilemma when some cultures contradict the standards of humanitarian principles, ethics

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction
Juliano Fiori

, the collapse of the Soviet Union represented a final victory for Western liberal democracy – an unexpected Hegelian denouement in the knotweed of History. Their euphoria – albeit short-lived – provided the entrance music for a new ethical order, constructed by the US, with a basis in liberal humanitarian norms. Without any direct and immediate threat to its hegemony, the US merged its geostrategy with a humanitarian ethics. In 1991, after the Gulf War, the US invaded Iraq in the name of humanitarian concern. The following year, to the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs