Blinded by Humanity: Inside the Un's Humanitarian Operations

Blinded by Humanity: Inside the Un's Humanitarian Operations


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Blinded by Humanity: Inside the Un's Humanitarian Operations by Martin Barber

How to respond effectively to humanitarian crises is one of the most pressing and seemingly intractable problems facing the United Nations. Martin Barber, for many years a senior UN official and with decades of humanitarian experience, here argues that the explanation for UN 'failures' or only partial successes lies not with any lack of idealism or good intentions but with the constraints placed on aid workers by ill-considered policies and poor practical application—officials are 'blinded by humanity'. Barber presents an inside story based on personal/hands-on/practical experience in Laos, Thailand, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and, finally, in Abu Dhabi where he advised the UAE government on its aid programme. He tells of internal struggles at head office and the challenges of working in the field. All the major UN activities—and headaches—are here, including refugee work, coordinating humanitarian aid, peacekeeping, the huge problem of 'de-mining', and the complex internal workings of the UN Secretariat. A personal narrative and lessons drawn from direct experience provide the frame for an examination of major questions concerning the future of humanitarian response—how effectively have international institutions discharged their responsibilities towards people affected by conflict? Specifically, how did the UN perform? And how might the UN better help such people in the 21st century? Barber analyses recent policy developments intended to improve the quality and effectiveness of the UN's work in humanitarian fields, and assesses the extent to which recent reforms are likely to make the UN a more effective partner for countries emerging from conflict. In the final chapter he highlights seven 'blind spots' whose significance has been consistently ignored or overlooked, and in each case suggests a radical new approach. Based on decades of personal experience and 'insider access', this will be essential reading for students of international relations and politics as well as for all those directly or indirectly involved with humanitarian issues.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781784536237
Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
Publication date: 08/09/2016
Edition description: New
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Martin Barber was a senior UN official and has extensive experience in humanitarian affairs and peace operations—both at UN Headquarters and in the field. His last UN post before retirement was as Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) at UN Headquarters in New York from 2000 until 2005. Previous UN assignments include: Chief of Policy Development in the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Deputy Special Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan. He is now a consultant and analyst working on humanitarian issues and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Edinburgh.Not available at this time.

Table of Contents

List of illustrations vii

Acknowledgements ix

Foreword Lord Malloch-Brown xi

Preface xiii

Introduction 1

1 Starting out - In Laos 9

2 Across the Mekong - With Indo-Chinese refugees in Thailand 29

3 Refugees, asylum-seekers and the internally displaced - The view from Europe in the 1980s 57

4 Afghanistan - The missed opportunities 75

5 Crisis in Europe's backyard - Coordinating international efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina 105

6 A Secretary-General from the United Nations - Kofi Annan's impact on how the UN deals with crises 122

7 Landmines - The hidden mutilators 145

8 Aid from Arabia - Lessons for the West? 171

9 Pulling it all together - Coordination of humanitarian response 184

10 Blinded by humanity? 206

Appendix - 'How can I get a job with the United Nations?' 219

Suggested further reading 225

Acronyms 230

Glossary 233

Index 239

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