Johannes Paulmann Humanitarian aid is in many ways a malleable concept. It covers a broad range of activities, including emergency relief delivered to people struck by natural or manmade disasters; longer-term efforts to prevent suffering from famine, ill-health, or poverty; and schemes such as international adoption, specific campaigns against human rights abuses, and humanitarian intervention by armed forces. This essay focuses primarily on emergency relief. After a brief overview of the different terms and concepts of humanitarian aid, I discuss existing narratives of international humanitarian aid and identify crucial historical conjunctures during the twentieth century. My primary argument is that neither the history of humanitarian organizations, nor aid as a function of political economy, nor the evolution of global humanitarian governance provides a satisfactory historical explanation for the development of humanitarian aid during the twentieth century. Rather than such long-term narratives, the explanation may lie in the turning points themselves, in historical conjunctures and contingencies. This essay explores three such conjunctures to develop this view. Terms and Concepts of Humanitarian Aid Rather than clear-cut definitions of humanitarian aid, we find a complex constellation of terms and concepts. A historical study of the evolution and variations of the term
Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Aug 7, 2013
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