Humanitarianism’s Contested Culture in War Zones

With commentaries by David Chandler and Dennis Dijkzeul

Global Cooperation Research Papers 8, Duisburg 2014

Keywords: Humanitarianism, humanitarian business, ethics, marketization, militarization,international relations, globalization, development cooperation, global cooperation

DOI: 10.14282/2198-0411-GCRP-8


Humanitarians are no longer simply seen as selfless angels. Their motivations and mastery, their principles and products are questioned from within and from without. Understanding the ongoing transformations in contemporary humanitarianism requires examining the nature and evolution of humanitarian culture away from an agreed culture of cooperation to a contested one of competition. The latter reflects militarization, politicization, and marketization. What is required is a learning culture for practitioners and a consequentialist ethics more oriented to responsible reflection than rapid reaction.

The Author

Thomas G. Weiss is one of the leading experts on the theory and practice of humanitarian intervention, with special expertise in the politics of the United Nations. He is Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Presidential Professor of Political Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY (The City University of New York), and Research Professor at SOAS, University of London. At present he serves as an advisory board member for the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, member of the editorial boards of different academic journals and also as an editor of Routledge's Global Institutions Series.

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