Paper: Humanitarianism and Inequality in the Asia-Pacific

Paper details

Paper authors Alistair Cook
In panel on Humanitarianism and Inequality
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


The magnitude, frequency and impact of disasters often test the capabilities of individual governments in the Asia-Pacific. In this context, different governments and non-government actors often work together to provide relief to affected populations. Globally, the humanitarian system has been dominated by large International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs), the United Nations and the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement focused on conflict response which makes up an estimated 80% of humanitarian work. The remaining 20% of work is in disaster response where these players work alongside national governments. While these three groups are most often viewed in the global system as the traditional responders to disaster situations, this is not the case in the Asia-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia, where myriad organisations respond in a region with the most exposure to natural hazards worldwide. This creates potential areas of disconnect with those dominant in the global humanitarian system that are slow to recognise or appreciate local and regional dynamics. It also raises new avenues for cooperation and collaboration which could further localisation and improve relief efforts. It is thus important to examine the recent developments in the humanitarian field, and to identify areas of cooperation between different government and non-government actors. Having reviewed the humanitarian affairs literature, conducted interviews with humanitarian personnel, and participated in humanitarian forums in the region, this article analyses the current humanitarian landscape in Southeast Asia and the wider region, to highlight the under-appreciated actors in the humanitarian space in the Asia-Pacific.



Lina Gong