Author: Nagendra Singh
Publisher: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers
Category: Political Science
Since its birth with the creation of the international Red Cross in 1863, international humanitarian assistance has developed considerably since World War II. In accordance with the Red Cross principle of humanity, it aims at preventing & alleviating human suffering wherever it may be found, protecting life & health & ensuring respect for the human being. International humanitarian assistance involves a complex network of government agencies, intergovernmental & non-governmental organizations, & individual volunteers: it has been labelled a 'non-system'. While governments & intergovernmental organizations play a dominant & structured role in this field, the non-governmental organizations & their volunteers have proved to be their necessary operational partners, providing material, medical & moral relief & care wherever it may be needed, beyond borders, at the grassroots level. Following a brief review of recent humanitarian activities of intergovernmental organizations, & an analysis of current trends of voluntarism, this book focuses on the role, status & attitudes of the major humanitarian non-governmental organizations, including the Red Cross organizations, the British charities, Church-related agencies, medical volunteers (such as the 'French Doctors') & U.N. volunteers. Should humanitarian non-governmental organizations provide relief assistance with the Red Cross concern for discretion, neutrality & impartiality? Or should they bear witness & denounce publicly human rights violations, at the risk of being expelled from recipient countries & having to stop their assistance? The controversial claim of a 'right' to receive & a 'duty' to provide humanitarian assistance beyond borders is also addressed, as well as the possible need for a status to be accorded to international volunteers.