Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how contemporary humanitarian institutions interpret and implement their normative responsibilities in international society. It analyses a specific subset of actors—the United Nations and humanitarian NGOs—and the impact of their attempts to privilege a more “individualist,” or cosmopolitan, approach to the mitigation and regulation of armed conflict. The chapter sets out the core values of humanitarian action, including humanity and impartiality, and then illustrates how the process of “individualization”—which challenges the primacy of collective entities such as warring parties or sovereign states —has created both normative and operational dilemmas for humanitarian actors. In the case of the UN, the imperative to protect individual human rights has transformed the practice of peacekeeping, through a robust interpretation of impartiality, while for humanitarian NGOs it has spawned efforts to address not only the immediate suffering produced by armed conflict but also the underlying causes of vulnerability.

Keywords: human rights, humanitarian NGOs, impartiality, neutrality, sovereignty, self-determination, Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, Darfur

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.