Challenges to Principled Humanitarian Action: Perspectives from four
countries/ Norwegian Refugee Council, Handicap International Jul 2016- Full
text availabl ein IDC by request
The humanitarian principles - humanity, impartiality, neutrality and
independence - are under increased scrutiny and pressure. The purpose of
this paper is to contribute to an increased understanding of the perceived
and actual challenges humanitarians face in operational contexts as they
apply the principles.
The politicisation of aid, security concerns, counterterrorism measures, an
increasing diversity of actors and a renewed assertiveness among states and
non-state actors are just some of the elements that make principled
humanitarian action difficult. Despite these challenges, the value of the
humanitarian principles for humanitarians has been repeatedly reaffirmed. At
the foundation of this paper is the recognition that the four principles are
essential for humanitarians to meet the needs of affected populations.
The paper provide a snapshot of four case studies; Colombia, Nepal, northern
Syria and South Sudan. Through a combination of field research, headquarters
interviews, desk research, and a webinar, views and observations are
presented from the humanitarian community. These observations provide a
glimpse into the challenges faced by principled humanitarians. As a result
the paper puts forward seven recommendations intended to assist
humanitarians and states to sharpen tools and strengthen approaches when
implementing principled humanitarian protection and assistance.
To complement these insights, an addendum to this study provides
perspectives from selected members of the donor community. This research was
conducted through interviews with state representatives in Geneva, aiming to
understand how donors perceive their responsibilities in upholding the
humanitarian principles and the Good Humanitarian Donorship Principles. This
final chapter highlights challenges faced by states while supporting
principled humanitarian action, particularly in conflict zones. On the basis
of this research, additional recommendations for both states and
humanitarians are proposed to strengthen the adherence to the humanitarian
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