has been greatly exaggerated, then you will doubt that those changes are likely to pose any existential challenge to the humanitarian international, be it in terms of the efficacy of what relief groups do in the field or in terms of the political and moral legitimacy they can aspire to enjoy. But if, on the contrary, you believe that we are living in the last days of a doomed system – established in the aftermath of World War II and dominated by the US – then the humanitarian international is no more likely to survive (or to put the matter more

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

a majority of humanitarian practitioners, we can define it as a commitment to three things: the equal moral worth of all human lives (i.e. non-discrimination on principle), the moral priority of the claims of individuals over the authority claims of any collective entity – from nations to churches to classes to families – and a belief that as a moral commitment (one that transcends any sociological or political boundary) there is a just and legitimate reason to intervene in any and all circumstances where human beings suffer (even if

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction

dubbed ‘humanitarian exceptionalism’, the idea that aid workers should be protected at all times and in all places by virtue of the uniqueness of their function and moral standing. In the same year, arguably the apex of the heroisation of humanitarian workers, the UN launched the #HumanitarianHero campaign on 19 August to celebrate World Humanitarian Day ( Neuman, 2017 ). MSF published a multi-author review of its experience in risk management in 2016 ( Neuman and Weissman, 2016 ). In particular, the

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editors’ Introduction

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-thinking humanitarian action

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Model for Historical Reflection in the Humanitarian Sector

difficulties faced by those seeking refuge. Those remarks, of course, were hardly unusual. Quite apart from Trump’s aptitude for fomenting societal division, politicians (of all stripes) have for centuries done battle over what Caroline Shaw called ‘the moral possibilities and conundrums that remain so familiar to the “refugee question”’ ( Shaw, 2015: 11 ). Add to that equation the poor or misleading data that hinders international efforts to assist refugees and it becomes

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Digital Bodies, Data and Gifts

changers’ or ‘revolutions in humanitarian affairs’. 8 At the same time, the optics of engaging in humanitarian activities have acquired commercial logic by creating a marketable moral economy of good intentions. While this has succeeded in creating societal acceptance (in the case of drones) or new consumers (in the case of cash cards), the promoters of humanitarian wearables might be more interested in achieving mass distribution to enable the technology to become a vehicle

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction

even those inspired by anti-communism were cautious about structural integration into Western security strategies. At the beginning of the 1990s, NGOs shrugged off their scepticism for the morality of state power, working more closely with Western military forces. Private and government funding for humanitarian operations increased. With the help of news media, humanitarian agencies boosted their political capital, presenting themselves as providers of public moral conscience for the West. A new political economy of humanitarian aid developed

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

actors in conflicts. Neither a moral code to be brandished nor a relic to be dismissed, IHL helps humanitarian organisations find their place in war. That is not nothing, and it makes IHL worth defending. To expect more is to forget what it is, at bottom, and delude ourselves about its virtues. To imply that war can be civilised by law is to ignore the political realities of both law and war. Henry Dunant talked about creating ‘oases of humanity’ in the flood of violence that is war. Let us

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

, thus contributing to the continuation of a system that diverts aid resources to criminal organisations, their political sponsors and security and insurance companies. If there’s one deterrent against potential kidnappers, as weak as it may be, it’s publicising their crimes and their consequences. Contrary to conventional wisdom, few political and military organisations – including jihadist movements, which claim to be champions of moral rectitude

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs

our point of view, it was exactly this convergence and normative homogenisation in the inter-state system, on the one hand, and the increasing power of states that question American exceptionality and centrality using rules authored by the US itself, on the other, that began to threaten the global power of the US. This obliged the US to make an about-turn, responding in accordance with ‘Babel syndrome’. Challenged on its own terms, the US disavows its moral universalism within the inter-state system and desists from the old enlightenment project of

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs