Alternative Humanitarian Principles & Non-Traditional Humanitarians

Panel details

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Number of paper presentations 5


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The rising prominence of new state and non-state actors in development cooperation has stimulated extensive discussion over the last decade. Among politicians and scholars involved in humanitarian aid, there is a wide recognition of the plethora of actors now operating in the humanitarian field: ‘traditional’ or professional humanitarians, but also local religious groups, the corporate sector, soldiers, civil militia, individual philanthropists and so-called ‘new’ donor countries. While the advantages of the involvement of these actors are sometimes clear (e.g. larger resources, more technical knowledge, less bureaucracy), traditional humanitarian actors have expressed concern about the challenges new actors may experience for the application of the four humanitarian principles, namely humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. However, actual empirical research about non-traditional actors remains scarce; most of the Aidland literature focuses on traditional donors and practitioners. This panel invites contributors to share their case studies and research findings on non-traditional humanitarians. Most specifically, it asks to what extent new actors in emergency and crises situations are able or willing to adhere to humanitarian principles? To what extent do they use these or alternative principles?

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Roanne Van Voorst