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Performing humanitarian militarism

Public security and the military in Brazil

Stephanie Savell

This article investigates a case in which the Brazilian military, according to national press, “invaded” and “occupied” a Rio de Janeiro favela neighborhood under the auspices of a public security program. Rio’s “pacification” program aims to replace drug trafficking organizations’ control of favelas with Pacifying Police Units and counts on the occasional participation of the military. Based on research with military personnel and favela residents, I investigate the construction and consequences of the pairing of militarism with humanitarianism. I show how these logics are not opposed, as they might at first sound, but in practice, deeply aligned. Among other reasons, both state force and state caregiving are performances to justify military presence on the streets to audiences in and outside the favela. The visible spectacle of humanitarian militarism effaces abuses and makes light of the everyday fears and insecurities suffered by the urban poor.

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Humanitarian Ideals between the Wars

(Re)Constructing Switzerland through Travel Writing

Sara Steinert Borella

Swiss authors and travelers Ella Maillart and Annemarie Schwarzenbach set off to drive from Switzerland to Afghanistan in a Ford roadster in late 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. Their subsequent texts reveal as much about cultural norms prevalent in Switzerland in the late 1930s as they do about the actual journey to Afghanistan. This article explores Ella Maillart's The Cruel Way (1947) and Annemarie Schwarzenbach's All the Roads Are Open (2011) as constructions of the humanitarian principles that the Swiss have come to call their own. Both travel narratives call into question the national value of neutrality while echoing the language of emerging political and legal human rights discourses. The travel narratives of Maillart and Schwarzenbach thus contribute to the development of a literary discourse of human rights that will later become the standard narrative for Switzerland during and following World War II.

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Ebola and Accusation

Gender Dimensions of Stigma in Sierra Leone’s Ebola Response

Olive Melissa Minor

As Response and Resilience Team Anthropologist for Oxfam GB, my role was to support an inclusive, community-led Ebola response through a better understanding of gender dynamics in the context of the outbreak. This case study identified stigma and blame of affected people as key factors in the ongoing epidemic. Despite social mobilisation efforts to address these attitudes, they remained ingrained in the Ebola response at multiple levels: in Government of Sierra Leone quarantine policies, in community by-laws and in everyday social interactions. Negative attitudes put pressure on the roles of men and women in ways that produced barriers to acting on Ebola prevention and treatment advice or creating an inclusive Ebola response. Our findings prompted several improvements in Ebola response activities that Oxfam Sierra Leone carried forward in their work, demonstrating the key role applied anthropology can play in creating a reflexive process to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian aid.

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A conceptual safari

Africa and R2P

Yolanda Spies and Patrick Dzimiri

English abstract: The Responsibility to Protect is a new human security paradigm that re-conceptualizes state sovereignty as a responsibility rather than a right. Its seminal endorsement by the 2005 World Summit has however not consolidated the intellectual parameters of the norm. Neither has it succeeded in galvanizing R2P's doctrinal development; hence the January 2009 appeal by the UN secretary-general for the international community to operationalize R2P at the doctrinal level, in addition to at institutional and policy levels. R2P represents a critical stage in the debate on intervention for human protection purposes, but its key concepts require more exploration. Africa is a uniquely placed stakeholder in R2P on account of its disproportionate share of humanitarian crises and because Africans have played key roles in conceptualizing the norm. The continent should therefore not just offer an arena for, but indeed take the lead in, the conceptual journey that R2P's doctrinal development requires.

Spanish abstract: La responsabilidad de proteger es un nuevo paradigma de seguridad humana que reconceptualiza la soberanía del Estado como una responsabilidad en lugar de un derecho. Pese al respaldo inicial que obtuvo en la Cumbre Mundial de 2005, los parámetros intelectuales de esta norma no se han consolidado. En esta cumbre tampoco se logró fortalecer el desarrollo de la doctrina del R2P (Responsibility to Protect), por lo que se produjo un llamado en enero de 2009 por parte del secretario general de la ONU para poner en práctica el nivel de la doctrina del R2P, además de los niveles institucional y político. La R2P representa una etapa crítica en el debate sobre la intervención con fines de protección humana, pero sus conceptos clave requieren más profundización. África tiene una posición única en la R2P dada su parte desproporcionada en las crisis humanitarias y porque los africanos han tenido un papel clave en la conceptualización de la norma. Por ello, el continente debería no sólo ofrecer un espacio, sino de hecho tomar la delantera en el trazado conceptual que requiere el desarrollo de la doctrina de la R2P.

French abstract: Le «devoir de protection» est un nouveau paradigme de la sécurité humaine qui redéfinit la souveraineté de l'État comme une responsabilité plutôt que comme un droit. Cependant, lors du Sommet Mondial de 2005 les paramètres du concept n'ont pas été consolidés. Ce sommet n'a pas non plus réussi à activer le développement doctrinal du devoir de protection (en anglais «Responsibility to Protect» ou «R2P»), d'où l'appel lancé en janvier 2009 par le Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies à la communauté internationale pour qu'elle rende le «devoir de protection» opérationnel à un niveau doctrinal en plus des niveaux institutionnel et politique. Le devoir de protection représente un moment critique du débat sur les interventions ayant pour but la protection humaine, mais ses concepts méritent une analyse encore plus approfondie. En matière de devoir de protection, l'Afrique est une partie prenante incomparable, du fait de sa part disproportionnée de crises humanitaires, mais aussi parce que les Africains ont joué un rôle clé dans la conceptualisation de ce e norme-là. Dans ces conditions, le continent africain ne devrait-il pas, non seulement offrir le terrain d'étude, mais aussi prendre la tête dans le cheminement conceptuel que le développement doctrinal du devoir de protection exige ?

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Adolescent Girls with Disabilities in Humanitarian Settings

“I Am Not ‘Worthless’—I Am a Girl with a Lot to Share and Offer”

Emma Pearce, Kathryn Paik and Omar J. Robles

Adolescent girls with disabilities face multiple intersecting and often mutually reinforcing forms of discrimination and oppression, which are exacerbated in situations of crisis. Gender norms that define how women and men should act are socially constructed and learned; they vary across contexts, and interact with other factors, including socioeconomic status, ethnic group, age, and disability. In crisis situations, family and community structures break down, while traditional and social norms disintegrate, all of which affect adolescent girls with disabilities in unique and devastating ways. Drawing on the Women’s Refugee Commission’s work, including personal narratives collected from girls with disabilities, in this report we review how age, gender, and disability influence identity and power in relationships, households, and communities affected by crisis. This report outlines principles for including girls with disabilities in adolescent girls’ programming, promoting safe access to humanitarian assistance, and mitigating the risk of violence, abuse, and exploitation.

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“It’s Being, Not Doing”

Hospitality and Hostility between Local Faith Actors and International Humanitarian Organizations in Refugee Response

Olivia J. Wilkinson

Local faith actors are deeply involved in assisting refugees around the world. Their place in refugee response, however, can be in parallel with and, at times, in disagreement with the efforts of international humanitarian organizations. Focusing on the interactions between local faith actors and refugees and local faith actors and international organizations, the lenses of hospitality and hostility are used to analyze the tensions between these types of actors. Through a review of the literature and interviews with 21 key informants, I show that processes of marginalization occur to the extent that local faith actors lose their positions of host to the dominance of the international humanitarian system, and feelings of hostility ensue. This demonstrates to international actors why they might be ill received and how they can approach partnerships with local faith actors in more diplomatic ways.

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Ken MacLean

This article examines current debates for and against Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) in Myanmar. The analysis, based on interviews with key local, national, and international actors involved in HMA, reveals why so many of them regard the mapping and removal of “nuisance” landmines as posing a security threat to the peace process. (Landmines deny people access to territory; when conflict ends, these landmines no longer serve a strategic purpose and thus become a dangerous nuisance.) These same debates also shed light on the growing role risk management approaches now take in Myanmar as a response to decades of authoritarian misrule by a succession of military regimes. The landmines, although buried in the ground, actively unsettle such good governance initiatives and the neoliberal development projects to which they are often linked, most often by reterritorializing military, humanitarian, political, and economic authority in overlapping and conflicting ways at multiple scales. The findings reveal why HMA actors resist labeling the crisis landmine contamination poses to civilians as a “crisis” that requires immediate humanitarian action.

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Faisal Devji

A global society has come into being, but as yet it possesses no political institutions proper to its name. I will make the case that new forms of militancy, like that of al-Qaeda, achieve meaning in this institutional vacuum while representing, in their own way, the search for a global politics. From environmentalism to pacifism, such a worldwide politics can only be one that takes humanity itself as its object. This article aims to show that militant practices are informed by the same search that animates humanitarianism, which has become the global aim and signature of all politics today.

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Andrew Fiala

What has come to be known as ‘the Bush Doctrine’ is an idealistic approach to international relations that imagines a world transformed by the promise of democracy and that sees military force as an appropriate means to utilize in pursuit of this goal. The Bush Doctrine has been described in various ways. It has been called ‘democratic realism,’ ‘national security liberalism,’ ‘democratic globalism,’ and ‘messianic universalism’.1 Another common claim is that this view is ‘neoconservative’.2 In what follows I will employ the term ‘neoconservative’ as a convenient and commonly accepted name for the ideas that underlie the Bush Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine has been expressed in numerous speeches by President Bush and members of his administration.3 It is stated in the policy of the National Security Strategy of the United States.4 And it was employed in the invasion of Iraq. The hopeful aspiration of the Bush Doctrine is that democratization will result in peace.

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Sophie Nakueira

Nakivale, the oldest refugee camp in Uganda, hosts refugees fleeing various forms of political unrest from several African countries. Uganda’s humanitarian framework makes it an attractive place for refugees. Little is known about the role that humanitarian policies play in shaping interactions between different actors or the politics of accusation that emerges within this settlement. In a context in which the status of a refugee can confer preferential access to scarce resources, different refugee communities struggle to define themselves, their neighbours and kin in terms of the camp’s humanitarian language. Describing the everyday anxieties that define life in the camp, this article shows how accusations become powerful resources that refugees draw upon to meet the criteria for resettlement to a third country, but also how these forms of humanitarian assistance rely on processes of exclusion that create endemic accusations of corruption, criminality and even witchcraft.