Friday, 22 June 2007

Confusion in the Margins: Narrow or Wide? Saving Lives or Building peace?

An insightful piece by Antonio Donini, Senior Researcher at the Feinstein International Center.

He looks at the question of how wide the definition of humanitarianism should be- a narrowly defined niche only for civilian do-gooders who prize neutrality and independence? Or, as he succinctly puts it:

"Thus, humanitarianism is in the eye of the beholder. It is self-defined. The term is ambiguous in that a diverse range of actors claim to operate under a banner that is used to justify a multitude of interventions. There is no formal standard to which organizations, who see themselves as humanitarian, can be held to account. This is one of the problems: there is not one humanitarianism; there are many. And, quite naturally, there is a range of views on whether humanitarian action should be narrowly defined or broad in scope."

Antonio presented this paper at the ICVA Conference: A Contribution to the Debate, in Geneva, Switzerland, 2 February 2007.

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