Holmes: Current Humanitarian Response “Doesn’t Fit the World”

“It’s clearer and clearer that the current model of humanitarian response doesn’t fit the world as it really exists,” said John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs during an IPI panel discussion. Mr. Holmes was referring to his organization’s lack of response to some long-term humanitarian needs.
“The model is essentially one of responding to events, to triggers, which are either natural disaster—sudden onset, slow onset—or a conflict,” he continued. “And I’m not saying we don’t need to do that. Of course we need to do that. But if we claim to be, as we do, a needs-based responsive system, then how can we easily ignore the massive humanitarian needs that are in places where there is no obvious trigger?”

The May 14th panel discussion was based on the report “Humanitarian Horizons: A Practitioners’ Guide to the Future.” The report, produced by The Humanitarian Horizons Project, was derived from four research papers to help humanitarian aid agencies, the UN, and other decision makers plan for the next generation’s challenges including large demographic shifts and climate change.

Mr. Holmes was joined at the table by four panelists: Dr. Peter Walker, Professor of Nutrition and Human Security and Director of the Feinstein International Center, Tufts University; Francesco Mancini, IPI Senior Fellow and Director of Research; George Rupp, CEO, International Rescue Committee; and Mark Janz, Director for Humanitarian Planning, World Vision International.

The discussion was moderated by Warren Hoge, IPI Vice President for External Relations.

 Read transcript