Thematic Areas

Cash Transfer

A “cash transfer” refers to the direct provision of cash to households in order to reduce poverty and vulnerability. Cash transfer was originally used as a strategy in middle-income countries, but in recent years governments and international agencies operating in low-income countries have adopted and expanded similar programs.

Among the multiple types of cash transfer programs, more...



Civil Military Relations

Civil-Military Coordination, or CMCoord, is defined by the UN as "the essential dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors in humanitarian emergencies that is necessary to protect and promote humanitarian principles, avoid competition, minimise inconsistency, and when appropriate pursue common goals".1 The humanitarian principles referred to above are more...



Climate Change

Although changes in climate do not cause extreme weather events, most climate scientists believe that they do influence the events’ frequency, duration, and intensity. While the gradual warming of the planet is certainly a cause for concern, the extreme weather events associated with climate change pose some of the greatest challenges to humanitarian professionals. Rising sea levels more...



Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyze and minimize the causal factors of disasters.1 Examples of DRR include improving preparedness for adverse events, lessening exposure to hazards and therefore the vulnerability of people and property, as well as strategic management of land and the environment more...



Early Recovery

Following a crisis, national and international actors focus primarily on activities that address lifesaving needs in efforts to minimize damage and suffering and restore peace and stability. Early recovery builds on existing humanitarian assistance to work with the affected community to develop longer-term foundations for recovery.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC more...



Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD)

Since the end of World War II, donors in the development field have worked together to define good practices and promote aid coordination. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), established in the 1960s, provided one of the main forums for this work with the aim of collecting accurate and comparable data reporting by its more...



Human Rights and Humanitarian Action

Humanitarian action increasingly operates in a transitional setting providing protection and assistance in times of relative peace interspersed with bouts of conflict. Such an environment poses challenges to humanitarian actors as there exist two distinct legal regimes governing times of conflict and times of peace; regimes that present obligations not always in concert with one another. As more...



Humanitarian Coordination

A vital component of humanitarian action is the coordination among all actors involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Depending on the nature of the crisis, whether conflict or natural disaster, the number of humanitarian actors responding has increased over the past forty years. During the Biafran War in the late 1960s, a relatively small number of humanitarian actors were more...



Humanitarian Funding Flows

Donors to Humanitarian Crisis Response:

The donors to humanitarian crises response can be grouped into the following major categories:

  • Governments (including military and non-military agencies)
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • International organizations [e.g. United Nations (UN), European Commission (EC), World Bank]
  • Recipient community ( more...


Humanitarian Quality and Accountability Initiatives

The ineffectiveness of international actors in preventing and responding to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 drew attention to the need to dramatically improve the ability of humanitarian agencies to deliver on the promise of assistance and protection. The Rwandan experience led to the Joint Evaluation on the International Response to the Genocide which recommended for the international community more...



Humanitarian Space

The term “humanitarian space” has been used for over twenty years. It appears that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was the first to use it in the 1980s to describe a space for dialogue on humanitarian issues of common concern to warring parties. When initiated in this neutral humanitarian space, such dialogue could possibly spill over into substantive political more...



International Criminal Law

International criminal law (ICL) combines elements of Public International Law – predominantly international humanitarian law (IHL), with some human rights law and refugee law – with domestic criminal law to determine the scope of international crimes and the jurisdiction to prosecute. Those crimes generally encompassed by international criminal law are war crimes and crimes against humanity more...



International Disaster Response Law

Unlike armed conflicts, natural disasters have no legally binding set of regulations to govern the actions of those involved in aid and recovery; a lapse that has the potential to result in inefficient delivery of aid, lack of accountability amongst humanitarian actors, and overall poor response to catastrophes. Humanitarian law applies when a natural disaster strikes during the course of an more...



Monitoring and Reporting on Violations of International Law

Since 1913, when the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace investigated violations of international law during the Second Balkan War, the practice of monitoring and reporting has developed under the direction of multiple mandating bodies including the United Nations Security Council, European Union, and Arab League.1 Within the United Nations, specific treaty more...



Peace Building and Stabilization

Peacebuilding and stabilisation programs over the last two decades have incorporated humanitarian aspects into their mandates, contributing to serious problems in the field for dedicated humanitarian actors. As such, it is imperative to understand the role of these programs and how they relate to humanitarian action.

Peacebuilding as an operational format gained traction in Boutros more...



Protection of Internally Displaced Persons

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are "persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalised violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally more...



Public Health in Humanitarian Crises

Armed conflict is a leading public health issue with an estimated 181,795,000 deaths caused by war and civil conflict injury in 2008 alone.1 While global data on mortality and morbidity rates related to armed conflict is difficult to assess, particularly with regards to deaths indirectly caused by conflict, conflict-specific reports have provided a more complete view of mortality more...



Public International Law

Public International Law (PIL) rests upon two core concepts enmeshed in each of its underlying regimes: those of sovereignty and non-intervention. These privileges are allotted only to recognized States as qualified by the standards set forth in the Montevideo Convention of 1933. Article 1 of the Convention articulates that “the state as a person of international law should possess the more...



Security Management

Security risk to humanitarian actors operating in the field has increased significantly since the 1990s1, with deaths reaching an average of 100 per year from 2001 to 2010.2 Violence peaked in 2008, and 2009-10 displayed a slight downturn in aggression toward aid workers globally.3 This turn was not a result of improved security but rather of the withdrawal more...



Sustainable Livelihoods Framework

The sustainable livelihoods framework seeks to take a more comprehensive and integrated approach to poverty than traditional interpretations, which largely considered poverty in relation to a narrow set of indicators (such as income and productivity). Building upon prior work by organizations such as the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex1 and Oxfam, more...



Transitional Justice

Transitional justice refers to the employment of mechanisms such as truth commissions and war crimes tribunals. Its aim is to transform the cessation of hostilities into a solid foundation for a peaceful future and to bridge the gap between a “negative” and “positive” peace. Issues of justice, accountability, truth, reparations, and reform fester if not addressed in the aftermath of conflict more...



Urbanization and Urban Refugees

In the year 2008, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population was living in urban areas. This shift is the result of both “pull” and “push” factors: on one hand, people are attracted to the economic resources, social mobility opportunities, and government services found in urban areas; on the other, migrants flock to cities due to social insecurity, environmental more...



Water Security

Climate change, population growth, and increasing energy consumption per capita, have caused a steady decline in the world’s supply of clean water. This reality has significant consequences for humanitarian operators. Aid workers in the field will encounter a greater need for assistance, both in terms of the number of people requiring aid and the depth of their vulnerabilities. Faced with more...



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