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Upholding Humanitarian Principles in an Effective Integrated Response

  • Joel R. Charny

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The integration of political, military, and humanitarian action in responding to complex emergencies offers a compelling promise of resolving long-term problems and thereby providing peace and stability to an entire population. Significant changes are needed, however, to realize this promise fully. The most critical improvements relate to strengthening the humanitarian leadership within the UN system and so refocusing the collective effort on the protection of vulnerable civilians. A movement of independent, complementary agencies working together to realize protection will strengthen the humanitarian component of integrated missions and make a difference in people's lives.

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1 Macrae, Joanna and Leader, Nicholas , “ Shifting Sands: The Search for ‘Coherence’ between Political and Humanitarian Responses to Complex Emergencies ,” Humanitarian Policy Group Report 8, Overseas Development Institute, August 2000, pp. 34.

2 See Médecins Sans Frontières, “Angolans Left to Die: Abandoning the Humanitarian Imperative,” October 2003; available at http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org. This report is sharply critical of the UN response to hunger among civilians emerging from the areas controlled by UNITA after the death of Jonas Savimbi.

3 See the survey of the humanitarian movement in the aftermath of the wars in the Balkans, and Afghanistan, in Rieff, David, A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002).

4 Inter-Agency Standing Committee, “Protection of Internally Displaced Persons,” Inter-Agency Standing Committee Policy Paper, New York, December 1999, pp. 4,6.

5 International Meeting on Good Humanitarian Donorship, “Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship,” Stockholm, June 17, 2003; available at http://www.sida.se/content/i/c6/02/18/82/Meetingconclusions.pdf.

6 Médecins Sans Frontières, “Angolans Left to Die,” p. 3.

7 International Meeting on Good Humanitarian Donorship, “Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship,” General Principle 10.

8 These figures are all for the fiscal 2002 year, calculated by the author from tables in Action, Inter, Member Profiles 2002–2003 (Washington, D.C.: Inter Action, 2003).

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Upholding Humanitarian Principles in an Effective Integrated Response

  • Joel R. Charny

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