The Humanitarian Enterprise: Dilemmas and Discoveries

The Humanitarian Enterprise: Dilemmas and Discoveries

The Humanitarian Enterprise: Dilemmas and Discoveries

The Humanitarian Enterprise: Dilemmas and Discoveries


• Epilogue discussing the international response to the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the war in Afghanistan
• A fundamental text about the future of humanitarianism in the twenty-first century

International humanitarian activities have grown enormously in scale over the past decade, and the complex links between humanitarian work and the worlds of politics and military engagement have become increasingly contested.

Larry Minear uncovers what international humanitarians--including the UN, national governments, the Red Cross, and many private relief and development agencies--have learned about performing humanitarian work well, and the arguments that remain unresolved.


Larry Minear has been a practitioner, publisher, and advocate of humanitarianism since long before humanitarian studies and practice came into vogue. From his days of advocacy work for Church World Service and Lutheran World Relief in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1970s to his ten-plus years with the Humanitarianism and War Project in Providence and Boston, Larry has been a consistent voice for understanding complex situations and tailoring practice to those realities, for professionalization of the humanitarian field, for action based on research and analysis, and for honest discussion of the issues facing the humanitarian community.

As director of the Humanitarianism and War Project, Larry has been a leader in the field, respected in European capitals, among international NGOs, and by international and U.S. government agencies. The Humanitarianism and War Project, cofounded and codirected by Larry and Thomas G. Weiss, who assumed other responsibilities in the fall of 1998, has had no equal over the last eleven years. It has been the most prolific and important publisher in the United States of materials on humanitarianism and has been a leader in bringing together practitioners to discuss its findings.

The project has published books and monographs on everything from the Iraq crisis and the wars in Central America early in the 1990s to the challenge of capacity building in complex emergencies late in the decade. The project has led NGO policy dialogues and other debriefings in numerous countries on its work. After its founding in 1991 by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University and the Refugee Policy Group in Washington and a stretch of productive years in Providence from 1994 to 2000, the project moved to Tufts University in 2000, where it continues its innovative and practical work. Working closely with Larry and the project has been my pleasure.

This book is a thoughtful analysis of data that the project has amassed from thousands of interviews and discussions. Rather than summarizing its findings, the volume offers an innovative look at the key issues that have preoccupied humanitarian practitioners during the past decade. No pulling together of old materials, this book is instead an attempt to be guided by the lessons identified in the research and to see what has been done, what has changed, and what is to come in the field of humanitarianism.

Larry resists the temptation to trash the field or to focus on its many . . .

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