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The ethos–practice gap: perceptions of humanitarianism in Iraq

  • Greg Hansen


This article summarizes a country study on Iraq conducted by the Humanitarian Agenda: 2015 project of the Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, between October 2006 and May 2007.* Based on a sample survey of perceptions of humanitarian action among Iraqis at the community level and among humanitarian agencies in the region, the study focuses on what Iraqis and aid workers believe to be true about the way in which the humanitarian apparatus has functioned or malfunctioned in Iraq, and why. Its findings confirm both the strength of the humanitarian ethos in Iraq and the operational value of principled humanitarianism, but call attention to significant gaps at ground level between ethos and practice.



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1 Greg Hansen is an aid worker and independent researcher based in Amman, Jordan. He has been tracking humanitarian practice and policy in Iraq since early 2004.

* Humanitarian Agenda 2015 (HA2015) is a policy research project aimed at equipping the humanitarian enterprise to respond more effectively to emerging challenges around four major themes: universality, terrorism and counterterrorism, coherence, and security. As with all HA2015 materials, the Feinstein International Center welcomes feedback and criticism from all quarters. Please contact the author at or the HA2015 lead researcher Antonio Donini at .

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The ethos–practice gap: perceptions of humanitarianism in Iraq

  • Greg Hansen


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