Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies

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Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies (DHP D230)

FALL 2013
Daniel Maxwell

This course examines the evolution of the humanitarian action in relation to changes in the operating environment and changes in the international system. This multi-disciplinary course will cover a broad range of subjects, and addresses a number of topics:
• A historical perspective on humanitarian action
• The normative frameworks of humanitarian action – international humanitarian law, humanitarian principles, and codes of conduct;
• Conceptual frameworks for addressing the protection of life, livelihoods, rights and safety of people caught in complex emergencies;
• The impact of conflicts and the “global war on terror” on humanitarian space and humanitarian action.
• The political economy of conflict and humanitarian aid;
• Methodologies developed to improving the effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian action;
• The evolving structure of the international humanitarian system;
• The ethical and practical implications of adopting a rights based approach;

The course will rely on a case-study approach to examining these issues, and students will be involved in developing the case studies for presentation in class. By the end of this course students will be aware of the foundations on humanitarian action (International Humanitarian Law, humanitarian principles, different traditions); the historical, legal, social, political and moral context of the causes and consequences of humanitarian emergencies; the main analytical frameworks used to understand complex emergencies; and major forms of humanitarian responses to complex emergencies. Students will understand the complex relationship between humanitarian action and the international environment, the impact of humanitarian emergencies on social relations, and will have a working knowledge of the principles and standards of accountability for engaging in humanitarian response in complex emergencies. (Tuesday 9 a.m.-noon.)

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