The Charity of Nations: Humanitarian Action in a Calculating World


• Probes the reasons behind governmental and nongovernmental responses to urgent human need

• Will be one of the most important and influential assessments of humanitarianism in a decade

• Up-to-date field research, extensive interviews with practitioners and donor government officials, and over sixty collective years of work in humanitarian and development issues

• Accessibly written for the concerned international public, undergraduate and graduate students, practitioners, and analysts troubled by the direction of today's humanitarian action

The charitable impulse has a history rooted in ethics. But much of what passes for humanitarianism today is a commercial enterprise, manipulated by market forces of supply and demand. And since the launch of the "war on terror," national security interests and political objectives have increasingly come into play. The Charity of Nations probes the reasons behind governmental and nongovernmental responses to urgent human need. It explains why some crises get the lion's share of attention and resources, while others are essentially forgotten.

Vibrantly contrasting cases of Afghanistan, East Timor, and Sierra Leone, among others, illustrate how foreign policy and domestic politics have shaped what has become the business of humanitarianism. The authors call for a revamped humanitarian structure--one that eliminates the ambiguities and confusion that exist today. They argue for a shift away from rampant political and commercial intrusions, and a rededication to multilateralism, genuine accountability, and trust.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Bloomfield, CT
Publication year:
  • 2004


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