• Send page
  • Print page

Is humanitarian action everybody’s affair? Reflections on an overworked concept

30-06-2000 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 838, by Jean-Luc Blondel

Abstract of the article " L’humanitaire appartient-il à tout le monde? Réflexions autour d’un concept (trop?) largement utilisé "

“Humanitarian” (as in “humanitarian action” or “humanitarian endeavour”) has become a household word in recent times. Often it has been distinctly misused, as in the expression “humanitarian intervention”. The author of this article, a senior ICRC staff member, gives a reminder that humanitarian action is intended above all to safeguard and promote the welfare of human beings and to shield them from violence and the abuse of power. He then discusses several policy issues which explain or support humanitarian policy. To sum up, he draws some conclusions which should preserve the true nature of humanitarian action in the present circumstances. In particular, he urges that a diversified approach be adopted to achieve the common goal, namely, to protect people in distress.