Assessing Assumptions, Efficacy, Ethics, and Accountability of Humanitarian Organizations

Classic/emergency humanitarianism and resilience/alchemical humanitarianism—which constitute the two broad categories of humanitarian practice—maintain different assumptions and principles that affect their efficacy in implementing their respective goals. Classic/emergency humanitarianism rests on assumptions of humanitarian action being solely needs-driven and crisis-based, and employs Dunantist principles, such as impartiality and neutrality. Such assumptions and principles allow effective responses with respect to the stated goals of such organizations, though such responses are perhaps problematic when viewing humanitarianism through other lenses. Resilience/alchemical humanitarianism assumes that humanitarianism ought to remove the root causes of suffering and extend beyond immediate needs, thus requiring intrusions into politics and support for local capacity and response. While taking political stances may allow for solutions to more long-term problems, the overemphasis on local capabilities and ‘crises as normality’ can reduce the effectiveness of intervention and abandon vulnerable populations. Though the two forms of humanitarianism differ significantly, both would benefit from certain ethics—which would improve efficacy and humanity—when intervening in African societies, including: avoiding dehumanizing depictions of aid recipients and extreme relational dynamics, and consulting with local actors and recipients of aid. 

Democracy Disruption: The Second Wave of Global Authoritarianism

This paper characterizes the second wave as ‘democracy disruption’ rather than ‘autocracy promotion’ because while the strategy of disrupting the normative global hegemony of democracy is new, the core motivations and ultimate goals remain strategic and material. Authoritarian regimes are simply taking advantage of the great power competition in an increasingly multipolar world by altering the normative playing field for non-normative (i.e. strategic and material) ends. Therefore, in order to understand and assess the threat that this second wave of global authoritarianism and the emergence of ‘sharp power’ pose to democracies and democratic norms globally, it is imperative that this ‘democracy disruption’ characterization is adopted.

Reframing “Ethnic Conflict” as “Politicized Ethnic Conflict”

Currently, “ethnic conflict” appears to be a useful label for understanding political and social violence around the world. One only needs to search for this term on an academic search engine or database to notice the plethora of studies and articles surrounding this topic. This paper strives to reframe the term “ethnic conflict” as “politicized ethnic conflict” in order to more accurately reflect both the ultimate and proximate causes of this type of violence. By using literature on ethnic conflict and politicized ethnicity, along with the comparative cases of Kenya and Tanzania, this paper argues for the incorporation of the term “politicized ethnic conflict” into the literature since it is evident that politicized ethnicity ultimately drives many instances of ethnic conflict, with ethnic difference serving as a proximate cause and delineator.