1st Edition

Shaping the Humanitarian World

By Peter Walker, Daniel Maxwell Copyright 2009
    200 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    200 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Providing a critical introduction to the notion of humanitarianism in global politics, tracing the concept from its origins to the twenty-first century, this book examines how the so called international community works in response to humanitarian crises and the systems that bind and divide them.

    By tracing the history on international humanitarian action from its early roots through the birth of the Red Cross to the beginning of the UN, Peter Walker and Daniel G. Maxwell examine the challenges humanitarian agencies face, from working alongside armies and terrorists to witnessing genocide. They argue that humanitarianism has a vital future, but only if those practicing it choose to make it so. Topics covered include:

      • the rise in humanitarian action as a political tool
      • the growing call for accountability of agencies
      • the switch of NGOs from bit players to major trans-national actors
      • the conflict between political action and humanitarian action when it comes to addressing causes as well as symptoms of crisis.

    This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in international human rights law, disaster management and international relations.



    1. Origins of the international humanitarian system  2.  Mercy and manipulation in the Cold War  3. The Globalization of humanitarianism: from the end of the Cold War to the global war on terror  4.  States as responders and donors  5.  International organizations  6. NGOs and private action  7.  Our brave new world, a better future?


    Peter Walker is Director at the Feinstein International Centre at Tufts University. Before coming to Tufts Dr. Walker spent 20 years working for humanitarian aid agencies, both running relief programs and helping to develop the international policy and practices which now govern their behaviour. Dr Walker founded the World Disasters Report and was one of the founders of the Sphere humanitarian standards.

    Daniel Maxwell is Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and a Research Director at Feinstein International Centre at Tufts University.