Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Fog of Humanitarianism: Collective Action Problems and Learning-Challenged Organizations

The Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding have an timely and insightful article on humanitarian action in their latest issue. The author's conclusions are particularly insightful:

'This essay explores humanitarian action, and by effect post-conflict state-
building, in the so-called new wars of the post-cold war period especially the targeting of civilians, the proliferation of non-state actors, and the perils of war economies. The host of reactions by aid agencies, termed ‘new humanitarianisms’, has called into question traditional operating principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence while the system has experienced dramatic increases in the number of organizations and available funds. Arguing that too little institutional learning has yet occurred, the authors call for changing the culture of aid agencies and investing in information gathering and sharing, policy analysis, and planning. In an era when reflection time is as valuable as reaction time, they stress the need to develop a humanitarian equivalent of military science.'