The Oxford handbook of international organizations
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2016
This chapter begins by defining some key terms, including humanitarian action, humanitarianism, humanitarian space, and humanitarian intervention. It then examines the history of humanitarian action in wars through the lenses of three historical periods: the 19th century until World War I; the early 20th century through the end of the Cold War; and the last quarter-century. Next, it describes the entities that exert influence on the ground from outside a war zone: international NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN system, bilateral aid agencies, external military forces, for-profit firms, and the media. Operating alongside, and sometimes in opposition to, external agents in a particular war zone are local actors, which include NGOs and businesses as well as the armed belligerents. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the coordination of the various moving parts of the international humanitarian system.