The Humanitarian Imperative: Compromises and Prospects in Protracted Conflicts

Brief Author: 
Emmanuel Tronc
Date of Publication: 
September 25, 2018

This paper originally appeared in a Special Issue of the Pathways to Peace and Security journal and is republished here with their permission. 


Executive Summary 

At present, the protracted nature of many conflicts raises profound dilemmas and issues for the humanitarian sector. Afghanistan, South Sudan, Libya, Syria, and Yemen in particular, resonate as long-term conflicts with long-term international presence, complicated by fragmentation and complex political influences, and without projected resolutions – all at the immense cost of the civilian population. Humanitarian response, built upon the fundamental, widely known and accepted international norms and rules, has significant and consequential operational limits and challenges to cope with. This article exposes some of the issues of international humanitarian deployments, access, the practical application of humanitarian principles, and the instrumentalization of aid. It also emphasizes the importance, even at the active conflict phase, of considering the long-term implications of aid by continuing to engage and invest in local community relationships and infrastructures to enable sustainable and impactful outcomes.

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