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

This article describes the results of a pilot project on using historical reflection as a tool for policy-making in the humanitarian sector. It begins by establishing the rationale for integrating reflection into humanitarian practice. It then looks at the growing interest in humanitarian history among practitioners and academics over the past decade and sets out the arguments for why a more formalised discussion about humanitarianism’s past could result in a better understanding of the contemporary aid environment. The main body of the article focuses on our efforts to translate that potential into practice, through a reflective workshop on Somalia since the 1990s, held at National University of Ireland, Galway, in June 2017. Drawing on our experience of that event, the article puts forward four principles on which a workable model of reflective practice might be developed: the importance of the workshop setting, how to organise the reflective process, the value of pursuing a single case study and the careful management of expectations and outcomes. This article is not intended to be prescriptive, however. Rather, our aim is to put forward some practical suggestions and to open a conversation about how a model of historical reflection for aid practitioners might be developed.

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

Community engagement is commonly regarded as a crucial entry point for gaining access and securing trust during humanitarian emergencies. In this article, we present three case studies of community engagement encounters during the West African Ebola outbreak. They represent strategies commonly implemented by the humanitarian response to the epidemic: communication through comités de veille villageois in Guinea, engagement with NGO-affiliated community leadership structures in Liberia and indirect mediation to chiefs in Sierra Leone. These case studies are based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out before, during and after the outbreak by five anthropologists involved in the response to Ebola in diverse capacities. Our goal is to represent and conceptualise the Ebola response as a dynamic interaction between a response apparatus, local populations and intermediaries, with uncertain outcomes that were negotiated over time and in response to changing conditions. Our findings show that community engagement tactics that are based on fixed notions of legitimacy are unable to respond to the fluidity of community response environments during emergencies.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Interpreting Violence on Healthcare in the Early Stage of the South Sudanese Civil War
Xavier Crombé and Joanna Kuper

This article seeks to document and analyse violence affecting the provision of healthcare by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and its intended beneficiaries in the early stage of the current civil war in South Sudan. Most NGO accounts and quantitative studies of violent attacks on healthcare tend to limit interpretation of their prime motives to the violation of international norms and deprivation of access to health services. Instead, we provide a detailed narrative, which contextualises violent incidents affecting healthcare, with regard for the dynamics of conflict in South Sudan as well as MSF’s operational decisions, and which combines and contrasts institutional and academic sources with direct testimonies from local MSF personnel and other residents. This approach offers greater insight not only into the circumstances and logics of violence but also into the concrete ways in which healthcare practices adapt in the face of attacks and how these may reveal and put to the test the reciprocal expectations binding international and local health practitioners in crisis situations.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Miguel Otero-Iglesias

The EU is the biggest trade bloc in the world, but its presence is less palpable in the Asia-Pacific, which is currently the most dynamic global region. The signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement has only increased this perception. The EU has no free trade agreement with China, India, Japan, Australia or New Zealand. This chapter first examines the EU’s economic and trade presence and policies in the region and then assesses whether the EU is under-represented. If so, we will attempt to explain why, but if this is not the case, and the EU has a greater presence than first thought, the second part will attempt to explain why this is the generally accepted view. Methodologically, the starting hypothesis is that the EU has neglected the Asia-Pacific region for several primary reasons: overly focusing on the Atlantic, the distance, cultural differences, an overemphasis on China, a lack of strategic presence and vision, and internal problems.

in The European Union in the Asia-Pacific
Inter-regionalism in a new era
Julie Gilson

The idea of a return to Asia reflected the growing economic and strategic influence of the Asia Pacific region, particularly in the light of the failure of Western markets and the continuing rise of Chinese economic power. Europe too has begun to reconsider the state of its relations with East Asia. This view has gained a high level of support from European Asia-watchers and politicians, not least the EU High Representative herself. In the 1990s, the EU launched a ‘new strategy’ towards the East Asian region, and participated in the establishment of the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) in 1996. This chapter examines this apparently renewed European approach to Asia, within the context of inter-regional relations through the ASEM framework, and as a European tool for the collective management of external relations with Asia. It is argued that weak institutional structures combine with a rise in the number of bilateral agreements and contentious intra-regional dynamics within Asia and Europe, thereby diluting the effect of any EU pivot. Inter-regionalism should thus be regarded as an issue and process-led form of managing foreign policy, rather than a general narrative for understanding relations among regions today.

in The European Union in the Asia-Pacific
Nicole Scicluna

The ties that bind Australia and New Zealand to the nations of Europe are many and varied, but what does the European Union mean to Australia and New Zealand? More importantly for the purposes of this volume: what do Australia and New Zealand mean to the EU? These questions are difficult to answer. Relations between the EU and Australia and New Zealand have been marked not only by deep cultural commonalities and shared policy concerns but also by policy differences, asymmetry (given the huge discrepancies in market size) and even, at times, indifference. The rapid development of the Asia-Pacific, particularly China, adds another dimension to the EU’s economic and strategic engagement with these outposts of ‘the West’.

This chapter thus aims to clarify the EU’s relations with Australia and New Zealand, highlighting the main points of both commonality and contention. The focus is on specific key policy areas, including agricultural subsidies, climate change, regional security and human rights. The picture that will emerge is of a relationship that is strong but not unproblematic; historically rooted and of great contemporary resonance.

in The European Union in the Asia-Pacific
Strategic reflections
Michael Reiterer

While the EU maintains strategic partnerships with several Asian countries, there are doubts in Asia over whether it can be a genuine strategic partner. The perceptions may not match – the EU has over the years developed numerous policies and initiatives on the region. In doing so it has demonstrated its comprehensive interest in Asia, not only in terms of foreign policy but also in the dimensions of politics and security. However, the perceptions of the two sides are mutual yet. In light of the new 2016 EU global strategy, this chapter explores the consequences it may have on the EU’s strategic approach to Asia in general, and its strategic partnership diplomacy in particular. In Asia, where profound changes are occurring, investing in regional security and strengthening global governance will be essential features of this policy.

in The European Union in the Asia-Pacific
Rethinking Europe’s strategies and policies
Authors: Weiqing Song and Jianwei Wang

Since the mid-1990s, the European Union has defined the Asia-Pacific as one of its key strategic targets on its ambitious road towards global power. The EU has ever since made consistent efforts to implement strategies, policies and activities in the Asia-Pacific. Over the past decades, big changes have taken place on both sides and the wider world. It is high time to evaluate the EU’s performance in its Asian policy. In fact, the EU is at crossroads with its Asia Pacific policy. On several aspects, the EU is compelled to redefine its interests and roles, and rethink its strategies and policies towards the dynamic and ever-important Asia-Pacific region of the contemporary world. This volume addresses this theme, by elaborating the general context, major issues and countries in the EU’s Asia-Pacific policy. It covers issues and areas of traditional security, economy and trade, public diplomacy, and human security and focuses on the EU’s relations with China, Japan, the ASEAN countries and Australasia.

Lessons from the Asia-Pacific
Evangelos Fanoulis

The debate on the EU’s ‘actorness’ has continued over two decades. Related research questions have primarily focused on whether the EU acts as one in the world and whether it does so effectively. Corresponding empirical investigations have analysed the EU’s presence in its neighbourhood, its relations with international and regional organisations and its partnerships with powerful nation-states such as the US, Russia and China. We have little knowledge, however, of the role and presence of the EU in sub-systems of the international system, in which the EU and its member states have not, at first glance at least, immediate interests. In this chapter we examine whether the EU is a human security provider in the Asia-Pacific region. The first section briefly presents the concept of human security and how it has been perceived in EU circles. The second section provides a systematic empirical analysis of the methods used by the EU to offer human security in the Asia-Pacific. Foreign policy instruments, development, trade, humanitarian aid, global health and environmental instruments are assessed. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the EU’s presence in the Asia-Pacific as a human security provider may inform the debate around its actorness.

in The European Union in the Asia-Pacific
Navigating between trouble and promise
Gustaaf Geeraerts

Since 2003 the EU and China have acknowledged their strategic partnership, and have slowly but steadily built on it to develop one of the most structured relationships between two global powers in the world today. The re-emergence of China is a major driver of change in the ongoing transformation of the international system, and the EU–China strategic partnership is an important dimension in both Chinese and European foreign policies. As major trading entities, China and Europe have a significant effect on each other. China’s re-emergence and growing influence are, however, affecting Europe’s relative position in the global distribution of capabilities, and also pose a challenge to Europe’s governance outlook and to its very identity. In the wake of the great recession, friction has increased in the economic and trade relationship of China and the EU, which is the fundamental link between them. While they have many common interests, they are also competitors – and increasingly so. The future relationship between the EU and China is bound to be a difficult balancing act between competition and co-operation – at best an enlightened calibrating of national interests and global governance ambitions within a complex and transforming international environment.

in The European Union in the Asia-Pacific