Paper: Can inequality close the door to humanitarianism? The Latin American experience

Paper details

Paper authors Oscar A. Gomez
In panel on Humanitarianism and Inequality
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Authors: Oscar A. Gómez, Simone Lucatello and Rodrigo Mena

Latin America is one of the most inequal regions of the world in terms of income. Such inequality is at the root of the vulnerabilities to different natural hazards and human-made threats that result in crises with humanitarian consequences all around the region. However, international humanitarian assistance plays a limited role in Latin America’s management of crises, usually addressed from many other different perspectives—e.g., as human rights, emergencies response, disaster risk management, diplomatic or security issues—, covered mainly by various national and local actors—i.e., governments, church, civil society, business—who do not present themselves as traditional humanitarian actors. Part of this regional dynamic emerges from a long-standing recognition of the connection between vulnerability and inequality, forcing local actors to focus on pursuing sustainable solutions rather than just relief. Through three case studies in Central America’s Northern Triangle, Colombia, and Chile and Brazil in the South Cone, the paper will illustrate this particular connection between inequality and humanitarianism in the region. In closing, we observe how the Latin American experience has important implications in relation to ongoing discussions about localization and de-colonizing humanitarianism, particularly on its future reconceptualization or transformation.