Policy Papers - November 16, 2012
Rethinking Humanitarianism: Adapting to 21st Century Challenges
The modern international humanitarian system is being tested like never before. Built on a philosophy that espouses universality and integrity of humanitarian principles, the system now faces crises and conflicts that are changing in nature, an increased humanitarian caseload, and a renewed assertiveness on the part of host states.
Humanitarian actors have proposed an ambitious agenda for adapting to this changing landscape—from anticipating future risks to strengthening local resilience and increasing coherence and coordination. But this conventional narrative of reform and adaptation fails to address significant underlying tensions, in particular the growing disconnect between the system’s expanding ambitions and its foundational principles.
This policy paper examines the boundaries of the humanitarian enterprise, investigates today’s challenges and their implications, and addresses the tensions inherent in the mainstream agenda for adaptation. It then explores key questions for the future of humanitarianism:
- Can the modern humanitarian system become truly universal by adapting to a changing international context and opening up to actors who have different values and practices?
- Could a sparser but more faithful use of humanitarian principles, adapted to the context, support rather than undermine these principles?
- Despite the quest for ever-greater coherence and coordination of the humanitarian system, could the fragmentation of the system be valued as a strength given the comparative advantages of its various components?
To deal with twenty-first century challenges and meet its broader objectives, the humanitarian system may now need to redefine the rules and theoretical foundations on which it was built.
The Global Observatory
Defying Spain, Catalans Vote for Independence, But What’s Next?
The unofficial Catalan referendum has raised several questions about Catalonia’s future and its relationship with Madrid.
Key Global Events to Watch in November
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
November 05, 2014
Top-Down Governance Hurts Women, Youth Participation
Governments in the Sahel and Maghreb are still using top-down approaches to governance that make it hard for women and youth to have a say in public life, even though their participation can help their governments’ struggle against instability and extremism.
November 03, 2014
Apakan on Ukraine: "To Be Present Is Important"
On November 3rd, IPI’s Vienna office hosted Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
November 03, 2014
Enhancing Women's Share in Peace and Security
“We did not want to make war safe for women; we wanted to end war for everyone,” Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury said, recalling the goal of a new resolution he introduced as president of the Security Council in the year 2000.
September 25, 2014
IPI Remembers Margaret Vogt