The Routledge Companion to Humanitarian Action: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Companion to Humanitarian Action

1st Edition

By Roger Mac Ginty, Jenny H Peterson


458 pages

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Hardback: 9780415844420
pub: 2015-03-23
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The Companion on Humanitarian Action addresses the political, ethical, legal and practical issues which influence reactions to humanitarian crisis. It does so by exploring the daily dilemmas faced by a range of actors, including policy makers, aid workers, the private sector and the beneficiaries of aid and by challenging common perceptions regarding humanitarian crisis and the policies put in place to address these. Through such explorations, it provides practitioners and scholars with the knowledge needed to both understand and improve upon current forms of humanitarian action.

The Companion will be of use to those interested a range of humanitarian programmes ranging from emergency medical assistance, military interventions, managing refugee flows and the implementation of international humanitarian law. As opposed to addressing specific programmes, it will explore five themes seen as relevant to understanding and engaging in all modes of humanitarian action. The first section explores varying interpretations of humanitarianism, including critical historical and political-economic explanations as well as more practice based explorations focused on notions needs assessments and evaluation. Following this, readers will be exposed to the latest debates on a range of humanitarian principles including neutrality and sovereignty, before exploring the key issues faced by the main actors involved in humanitarian crisis (from international NGOs to local community based organizations). The final two sections address what are seen as key dilemmas in regards to humanitarian action and emerging trends in the humanitarian system, including the increasing role of social media in responding to crises.

Whilst not a ‘how to guide’, the Companion contains many practical insights for policy makers and aid workers, whilst also offering analytical insights for students of humanitarian action. Indeed, throughout the book, readers will come to the realization that understanding and improving humanitarian action simultaneously requires both active critical reflection and an acceptance of the urgency and timeliness of action that is required for humanitarian assistance to have an impact on vital human needs. Exploring a sector that is far from homogenous, both practitioners and scholars alike will find the contributions of this book offers them a deeper understanding of the motivations and mechanics of current interventions, but also insight into current changes and progress occurring in the field of humanitarian practice.


"The Companion is a pioneering reference, given its massive scope and breadth, but may be comparable to Thomas Weiss, Humanitarian Business (CH, Nov'13, 51-1745). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above." – CHOICE, K. Staudt, University of Texas at El Paso

Table of Contents

Introduction Jenny H Peterson


1 Wonderful work: globalizing the ethics of humanitarian action Hugo Slim 2 From protection to disaster resilience Mark Duffield 3 Critical readings of humanitarianism Ryerson Christie 4 Gender analyses Dyan Mazurana and Keith Proctor 5 Humanitarian history? Bertrand Taithe 6 Humanitarian motivations Travis Nelson


7 Neutrality and impartiality Laura Hammond 8 Universal rights and individual freedoms David Chandler 9 The principle of ‘First Do No Harm’ David N Gibbs 10 Legitimacy Michael Aaronson 11 Altruism Judith Lichtenberg 12 Humanitarian space Francois Audet 13 The Responsibility to Protect Alex J Bellamy


14 The United Nations Thomas G Weiss 15 The Red Cross and Red Crescent Mukesh Kapila 16 Regional humanitarian organizations Susanna Campbell and Stephanie Hofmann 17 ‘Non DAC’ humanitarian actors Emma Mawdsley 18 Military and humanitarian actors Karsten Friis 19 Private military and security companies Andrea Schneiker and Jutta Joachim 20 The private sector and humanitarian action Alastair McKechnie 21 News media and communication technology Piers Robinson 22 National NGOs Gëzim Visoka 23 The religious field Jonathan Benthall 24 Medical NGOs Johan von Schreeb 25 Refugees and internally displaced persons Phil Orchard


26 Securitization and threats to humanitarian workers Larissa Fast 27 Non state armed groups and aid organizations Michiel Hofman 28 Dealing with authoritarian regimes Oliver Walton 29 Humanitarian action through legal institutions Michael Kearney 30 The humanitarian impact of climate change Holly Schofield 31 Exit strategies Sung Yong Lee and Alpaslan Özerdem

Trends 32 Humanitarian futuresRandolph Kent and Sophie Evans 33 Professionalization of humanitarian response Anthony Redmond 34 Urban refugees MaryBeth Morand 35 Charitable giving Jessica Field 36 New communications technologies and emergencies Stuart Garman

About the Authors

Roger Mac Ginty is Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the Humanitarian & Conflict Response Institute, and the Department of Politics, University of Manchester, UK. He has extensive editorial experience including three edited books, four special issues of journals and a book series ‘Rethinking Political Violence’. With his colleague Oliver Richmond he has established a Taylor & Francis journal titled Peacebuilding. He has published approximately 40 journal articles and two monographs: No War, No Peace: The Rejuvenation of Stalled Peace Processes and Peace Accords (2006) and International Peacebuilding and Local Resistance: Hybrid Forms of Peace (2011). His co-authored books are Guns and Government: The Management of the Northern Ireland Peace Process (2003) and Conflict and Development (2009).

Jenny H Peterson is a Lecturer of Political Science at the University of British Columbia, Canada. She has recently published in International Studies Quarterly (2013), Journal of Peacebuilding and Development (2013) and Disasters (2010). Her first monograph Building a Peace Economy: Liberal Peacebuilding and the Development Security Industry (2014) is also now available.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disasters & Disaster Relief
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries