International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

The Relevance of Humanitarian Principles in Contemporary International Humanitarian Affairs
Ahmed Alameldeen

The study employs case studies from various contexts to argue that the four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and operational independence possess only medium relevance in modern-day international humanitarian affairs due to pressure applied from the donors who fund such assistance projects and the obstacles put in place by the internal armed actors participating in conflicts. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières are the two main organisations in the sector that seek to maintain these principles through negotiations and by building trust with local communities. One chief perspective of interest for this paper is that of Kurt Mills, who has claimed that these principles can be considered ‘dead’ because they are entirely irrelevant to the practice of contemporary humanitarianism. This paper argues that this opinion is unfair and that the principles in question have become more relevant than ever before, but that non-governmental organisations struggle to implement them due to the intensification of contemporary conflicts, which makes it harder to adhere to these principles. Finally, the paper proposes that recently developed initiatives such as the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership and Good Humanitarian Donorship are working to help Non-government organizations (NGOs) to abide by humanitarian principles and to overcome some of the challenges they face in the field.

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