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Follow the Money: How Has Aid Measured Up in 2012? (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 13)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

As the Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) 2012 Report notes, humanitarian needs in 2011 decreased from those of the previous year. Financing requests dropped by 21% and the overall funding response decreased by 9% from 2010 to 2011. However, despite this shift, the gap in unmet financing widened. According to the GHA report, "the proportion of humanitarian financing needs within the UN CAP [United Nations Consolidated Appeals Process] appeal that remained unmet in 2011 was greater, at 38%, than in any year since 2001, despite overall reduced requirements." This trend is not exclusive to the past two years. In the past half decade, the gap between met and unmet needs in UN CAP appeals widened by 10%, despite large increases to financing. Further complicating the ability of international agencies to meet humanitarian needs, the year 2012 has seen crises emerge in environments that have been highly politicized increasingly dangerous for international workers. According to the Aid more...

DRR, Inc.: Can the Private Sector Revive Resilience? (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 12)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

As the planet warms, the vulnerability of communities in less developed countries rises. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in 2008, 20 million people were displaced by climate-related sudden onset disasters. Additionally, as AlertNet reports, in 2011, floods, typhoons, and earthquakes caused over $274 billion of economic losses in Asia alone. Without appropriate mitigation strategies, extreme weather and rising tides are likely to lead to greater losses of life and development investments in the coming decades.

While professionals in the humanitarian and development sectors recognize the importance of countering the negative impact of climate change and weather-related disasters, pathways to implementation remain difficult to navigate. In particular, an incongruity exists between the recognized importance of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and the funding allocated to resilience building efforts. According to a recent study by the think tank, more...

The Politics of Recovery (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 11)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

During the humanitarian reform process launched in 2005, humanitarian actors introduced early recovery as a humanitarian cluster to facilitate policy linkages between humanitarian relief and development. However, the scope of the early recovery cluster has since broadened to encompass a host of additional transitional activities — including stabilization and peacebuilding — relevant to post-conflict contexts. As the early recovery cluster has evolved, various debates have arisen about how organizations and agencies within the cluster should allocate resources and when humanitarian actors should transition from emergency relief to structural assistance. Disagreements between governments of conflict-affected states and humanitarian actors have sometimes proved particularly contentious. On one hand, post-conflict states have an interest in introducing activities that represent a return to stability to demonstrate to donors that governmental legitimacy has been restored.

On the more...

Public Health and Humanitarian Crisis (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 10)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Despite improvements in the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance in recent decades, armed conflict remains a leading public health concern. Mortality rates have declined in camps for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP), but overcrowding in camps, limited supplies of potable water, and poor sanitation have still contributed to some of the worst outbreaks of communicable diseases in history.

Furthermore, some humanitarian professionals have expressed concern that health-care provision in conflict is based on an outmoded model of humanitarian relief. Changes in geopolitics, global economic growth, and demographics have altered the profile of contexts in which armed conflict occurs. Conflict-affected countries increasingly have higher incomes, higher life expectancy, and a higher burden of non-communicable diseases. Violence occurs more frequently against a backdrop of urbanization and ageing more...

Peace Building and Humanitarian Engagement (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 9)

Monday, June 11, 2012

The scope and character of peace-building and stabilization missions significantly affect the work of humanitarian actors. Across a range of contexts, humanitarian actors must balance principled action alongside considerations of peace. An operational format that gained traction in Boutros-Ghali’s 1992 “Agenda for Peace,” peace-building encompasses dimensions of peace-making, peacekeeping, and development. Despite the emergence of “stabilisation” frameworks post-9/11, which were aimed at limiting peace-building’s expansive definition, peace-building continues to cover a multitude of possible activities designed for positive peace.

The United Nations Department of Peace Keeping Operations is currently conducting 15 missions on four continents with the service of more than 120,000 men and women. Whether the objective of a specific format is a “positive peace” (in which violence ceases and justice is secured, alongside more...

Human Rights and Humanitarian Action (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 8)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Human rights norms are playing an increasingly important role in humanitarian action. Yet there seems to be a growing confusion on the distinct origins and nuances of these bodies of law among practitioners engaged in humanitarian protection. This conflation has sometimes weakened arguments for compliance especially in situations involving intermittent bouts of conflict interspersed with periods of relative peace.

At its core, international humanitarian law (IHL) — the laws and customs of war — was developed to apply only during armed conflict and to provide a minimum level of humanity during such tumult. For its part, human rights law (HRL) — which emerged after IHL — governs the relationship between the state and the people within its jurisdiction, providing a framework to ensure that the state promotes and protects fundamental and indivisible values. While both HRL and IHL aim to recognize human more...

Empowering beneficiaries: Humanitarian professionals at a crossroads? (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 7)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Humanitarian organizations face an inevitable tension that arises from two separate accountability structures. One framework, established by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, holds organizations accountable to host states and donor states. A second framework, the human rights based approach, calls for accountability to individuals affected by hostilities. These two accountability structures create a multiplicity of obligations for humanitarian operators, who must simultaneously respond to the expectations of host state authorities, maintain accountability to donors, and respond to the needs of beneficiaries.

Additionally, efforts to professionalize humanitarian action have led to a new set of accountability measures to ensure the implementation of particular professional standards — from assessing humanitarian needs to implementing and evaluating humanitarian programs. This more...

The Integration of Humanitarian Action in Political and Security Missions (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 6)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In 2000, the Brahimi Report on United Nations (UN) Peace Operations proposed a set of sweeping reforms geared toward building integrated UN peacekeeping missions. These proposals ushered in a series of structural changes — such as creating Special Representatives to the Secretary General (SRSG) and Humanitarian and Resident Coordinators — designed to enhance the strategic impact of UN missions. Over the course of the past decade, integrated peacekeeping missions have become the standard of operations.

But integration has raised new complexities and tensions for humanitarian professionals. As recognized under international humanitarian law (IHL), humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the principles of independence, impartiality, and neutrality. Integrating humanitarian more...

Status of Humanitarian Reform (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 5)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The humanitarian reform process, initiated by the United Nations in 2005, aimed to remedy gaps in humanitarian operations and improve the timeliness, effectiveness, and predictability of aid delivery. The reform process sought to achieve these goals through three separate but complementary approaches: (1) the introduction of the cluster system; (2) the Central Emergency Response Fund; and (3) a strengthened humanitarian coordinator system.

While greater synchronicity between humanitarian actors may be essential to improvement, the reform process thus far has been met with mixed results. To date, according to many observers, clusters tend to be more process than action oriented and largely exclude national and local actors. Much work still needs to be done to improve inter-cluster coordination and the direct funding of clusters rather than bilateral support has caused delays in operations. The cluster more...

NGOs’ Rights and Responsibilities for Humanitarian Access (Humanitarian Assistance Webcast 4)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If the audio player above does not load, you can listen to the podcast here.

In recent years, humanitarian organizations have seen a rise in constraints on their access to vulnerable populations in times of conflict or internal disturbance. While international law provides important bases for humanitarian NGOs to obtain access to populations in need, it also imposes clear responsibilities on humanitarian organizations in terms of the maintenance of a neutral, independent and impartial approach to such situations. States remain primarily responsible for the provision of emergency assistance to their populations. However, in countries such as Pakistan or the Sudan governments are engaged in counter-insurgency more...


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