There are two distinct contemporary challenges to the relief of war-induced human suffering—one within the institutions that make up the international humanitarian system, the other on the ground in war zones. Varied interests, resources, and organizational structures within institutions hamper the effectiveness of efforts on behalf of war victims. And at the same time, on the ground, there are ethical, legal, and operational challenges and dilemmas that require actors continually to choose a course of action with associated necessary evils. Humanitarian challenges and intervention concerns within the international humanitarian system—combined with the domestic context of armed conflicts—often yield policies that do not serve the immediate requirements of victims for relief, protection of rights, stabilization, and reconstruction. Based on compelling, up-to-date case studies of the post-Cold War experience in Central America, northern Iraq, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, and the African Great Lakes, the authors Thomas G. Weiss and Cindy Collins make recommendations for a more effective international humanitarian system.
Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York where he is also one of the directors of the UN Intellectual History Project and one of the editors of Global Governance.
Cindy Collins is an independent consultant and a graduate student in Brown University’s Department of Political Science.
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