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Humanitarianism in a Post-Liberal World Order

survive this transition, but maybe other forms of humanitarian action will emerge, or thrive where they already exist, especially once the canopy is opened up because the eco-system’s tallest trees have been felled. Of course, what comes next might not meet the hopes of today’s humanitarians, especially because the degree to which it can be truly a global humanitarian system must be doubted if no international consensus can be forged to support it. The humanitarian alliance with liberalism is no accident, and if the world is less liberal, its

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction

worst of its rippling social consequences rebelled against systemic injustices. Left-leaning protest movements of indignados took to the streets. They rejected economic austerity and promoted progressive social reform. But they soon became marginal to the spreading politics of anger. In the main, the global backlash is now directed against progressive neoliberalism – the dominant ideological variant of late liberalism – with its ‘flexibilisation’ of everything in the economic sphere and its disintegration of tradition in the social sphere

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

in the structures of the global system. But in making this claim, all they have really said is that their politics are those of liberal internationalism, whether in its American imperial form or its somewhat more egalitarian European iteration. And the great genius of liberalism is that it is the only political ideology in the history of the world that insists that it is not an ideology at all. But the politics of relief organisations has often been exposed, as in the 1980s when many effectively supported the Afghan mujahedeen in its fight against

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

state, which, after the Cold War, would sign up to the international institutions and regulations created following the Second World War. Indeed, this is one of the reasons that, in the 1990s, American commentators referred to the ‘end of history’, the emergence of a unipolar world, the victory of Western liberalism and the universalisation of Western values. And they were right, to the extent that the US achieved a global power without precedent in human history, accelerating the globalisation of the inter-state capitalist system and the rules and

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
An Interview with Celso Amorim, Former Brazilian Foreign Minister

: Well, it is a difficult moment for international cooperation. It is possible to argue that the liberalism of the old order was a veneer that permitted a form of capitalist domination. But, regardless, many people benefited from this veneer. There were opportunities for organisations like UNICEF and Save the Children. And for Brazil, too. When I was foreign minister, I was able to establish triangular cooperation programmes with the US in Africa and in the Caribbean. In my recent book [ Acting Globally ], there is a photo of me with Condoleezza Rice

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

describing the paternalistic impulses and effects of European rationalism on so-called ‘non-Western’ cultures. The globalist and narcissistic tendencies of Western liberalism are inextricably linked to the paternalism that justified ‘civilizing missions’ around the world, and continue to justify various kinds of ‘humanitarian’ intervention in the lives of others today. Spreading ‘our values’ – through the promotion

in Recognition and Global Politics
Dominant approaches

conventional and positive rights as the model from which assertions of moral or non-positive rights may be derived. Contractarianism and contemporary utilitarianism are therefore often regarded as offering opposing accounts of liberal society (e.g. Dworkin, 1977). But as currents of liberalism essentially occupied with questions of the proper relationship between the individual as citizen and the state, utilitarianism and contractarianism also share much in common and in practice work often in tandem. Standard diplomatic treatment of the Universal Declaration of Human

in Human rights and the borders of suffering

nationalism is backed up by a principled argument about different ways of interpreting liberalism and the politics of equal respect. But there is also a strong element of contextual and pragmatic reasoning based on the search for second-best solutions for a given pluralistic society that cannot be redesigned at will (Levy 2007 ). Other societies may simply

in Recognition and Global Politics

this approach to a working human rights practice. Something that this argument sets out to do, but perhaps does not always succeed in doing, is to be critical of certain streams of liberalism and modernity, without slipping into the position of rejecting them out of hand – in their totality as it were, as if they had a totality. ‘Liberalism’ is a broad term covering a complex range of traditions and debates while ‘modernity’ is at least as slippery. But, even more importantly, liberalism refers to a raft of social, political and economic

in Human rights and the borders of suffering

10 Recognition in the Struggle against Global Injustice Greta Fowler Snyder Introduction State-specific solutions are necessarily inadequate to the task of effectively addressing the many global issues that humans face today – environmental damage, the ravages of neo-liberalism, violence against

in Recognition and Global Politics