The Charity of Nations: Humanitarian Action in a Calculating World / Edition 1

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* 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Well researched, well documented, and challenging for all actors involved in humanitarian action...Scrutinizes today's humanitarian action and the motivation of its donors. The authors make a case for a better-coordinated multilateral approach to support a more effective and principled humanitarian response."

"Ian Smillie is Canada’s most knowledgeable expert on foreign aid. In The Charity of Nations, he joins Larry Minear to produce a donor’s guide to spending our dollars...Government decision makers and international nongovernmental organizations should pay heed, since the immensity and urgency of current conditions demand we do things differently. Smillie and Minear have a formula."

"I hope [this] becomes a standard reference in the current discussion of the humanitarian enterprise. We would all be very much the better for it."

"Much more than an indictment of a humanitarian apparatus that allows 'forgotten emergencies.' This is a timely, important, and highly readable book."

"Offers an insightful analysis of the complexities of the humanitarian enterprise. The authors' grasp of the topic is impressive."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565491908
  • Publisher: Kumarian Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Smillie is an Ottawa-based development consultant and writer. He has lived and worked widely in Africa and Asia, and his knowledge of Bangladesh spans more than three decades. Author of several books on international development, he was a founder of the Canadian development organization, Inter Pares, and was Executive Director of CUSO. In addition to his other work, he is associated with the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University and serves as Research Coordinator on Partnership Africa Canada's 'Diamonds and Human Security Project'. He is a participant in the intergovernmental 'Kimberley Process,' which has developed a global certification system for rough diamonds.

Larry Minear directed Tufts University’s Humanitarianism and War Project. He has worked on humanitarian and development issues since 1972. A posting in the Southern Sudan was followed by advocacy work in Washington, D.C. on behalf of Church World Service and Lutheran World Relief. Over the years he has served as a consultant to governments, UN agencies, NGOs, and the Red Cross movement. Since co-founding the Humanitarianism and War Project in 1991, he has conducted and coordinated research on many humanitarian crises and written extensively for specialized and general audience. His most recent book, The Charity of Nations: Humanitarian Action in a Calculating World (Kumarian Press, 2004) probes the reasons behind governmental and nongovernmental responses to urgent human need.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; The Humanitarian Enterprise Today; Forgetting Sierra Leone; East Timor: The Perfect Emergency; Afghanistan: Back to the Future; Alarums and Excursions; Foreign Policy Imperatives; Domestic Considerations: Me First; Scenes of Riot: The Humanitarian Free-for-All; Trust and Mistrust: Assessing Needs, Judging Performance; The Way Ahead

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