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David Rieff

established global order 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

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Brad Evans

Introduction How we understand violence is key to how we conceptualise every single political category. We know nothing of claims to democracy, security, rights, justice and human development without attending to its underwriting demands. But what if the ways this understanding was framed rested upon highly contestable assumptions and political claims? We know violence is a complex phenomenon that continues to defy neat description. And we know it is poorly understood if reduced to actual bodily assault. Violence is an attack upon a person’s dignity, sense

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Governing Precarity through Adaptive Design
Mark Duffield

Introduction Drawing its energy from the wave of New Left and counter-cultural radicalism of the 1960s ( Boltanski and Chiapello, 2005 ), an NGO-led direct humanitarian action pushed onto the international stage during the 1970s. The radicalism of this new anti-establishment sans frontières humanitarianism lay in its political challenge to the conventions of Cold War sovereignty. By being there on the ground it sought to hold sovereign power to account, witnessing its excesses while professing a face-to-face humanitarian

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Architecture, Building and Humanitarian Innovation
Tom Scott-Smith

rooms and halls of the Biennale on my first day there, I remained distinctly underwhelmed. It seemed to me that the event was dominated by unrealistic, top-down designs that were too resource intensive and far too politically unpalatable to ever work in practice. But then I stumbled upon the Austrian pavilion. At the end of that wet afternoon my feet were tired from walking, my head was bursting from seeing too many unworkable ideas and I was looking for somewhere to

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
An Interview with Caroline Abu Sa’Da, General Director of SOS MEDITERRANEE Suisse
Juliano Fiori

-and-rescue missions. But it is citizen movements that have been at the forefront of the emergency response. Similarly inspired by cosmopolitan ideals, these groups tend to use more political language than conventional NGOs, presenting their relief activities as a form of direct resistance to nationalist politics and xenophobia. As liberal humanitarianism is challenged in its European heartland, they are developing – through practice – a new model of humanitarian engagement. SOS MEDITERRANEE is an ad hoc citizen initiative founded in 2015 to prevent the death of

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Editor’s Introduction
Juliano Fiori

and monopolistic distortions. And as liberal hopes for a pacific and technocratic utopia have taken leave of empirical reality, the assumption of progress has been sustained primarily through myth-making and cognitive gymnastics. Fake news is not the antithesis of liberal truth but its progeny. Nonetheless, the notion of liberal order is useful to the extent that it signals the role of liberal ideas and politics in the consolidation of Western hegemony and, more specifically, the expansion of American power. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Fabrice Weissman

that appears in the media, which may describe the horrendous conditions in which the hostages are being held and the payment of ransom to criminal and political networks ( Callimachi, 2014a , 2014b ; Kiser, 2013 ). In the end, vital information about the abductions remains the monopoly of the political and criminal networks carrying them out, the aid-organisation crisis units handling them, the private security firms advising them and the intelligence services

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

Introduction The modern global humanitarian system takes the form it does because it is underpinned by liberal world order, the post-1945 successor to the imperial world of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the global political and economic system the European empires created. Humanitarian space, as we have come to know it in the late twentieth century, is liberal space, even if many of those engaged in humanitarian action would rather not see themselves as liberals. To the extent that there is something constitutively

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
A Focus on Community Engagement
Frédéric Le Marcis, Luisa Enria, Sharon Abramowitz, Almudena-Mari Saez, and Sylvain Landry B. Faye

attention to the long history of the relationship between power and population. The cases are presented chronologically in order to align with the history of the West Africa epidemic. In the first case, Sylvain Landry B. Faye details a case from Kolobengou, Guinea, in which Ministry of Health efforts to mobilise traditional and political elites clashed with locally legitimate youth and local leaders over the distribution of Ebola-relief goods. In the second case, from Liberia, Almudena Mari

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

important issue for contemporary humanitarian action. This article is thus an historically informed contemplation on the political function of IHL and what we can expect from it. The Soldier, the Legal Expert and the Rescuer Let us begin with the first Geneva Convention, the starting point of contemporary IHL; it was signed on 22 August 1864 1 and did not even mention the word ‘humanitarian’. In ten articles occupying two pages, its subject (as

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs