There has been widespread discussion on the concept of ‘humanitarian space’ over the past decade, reflecting a common perception that humanitarian space is contracting and humanitarian action is becoming increasingly politicised. This is seen to be largely driven by the ‘global war on terror’ and a push by donors and the UN for closer integration and coherence between humanitarian action and diplomatic, military and other spheres of engagement in conflict and crisis-affected states. Responsibility for the politicisation of relief has also been laid at the doors of aid agencies themselves for their own role in diluting or diverting the humanitarian ‘brand’ through engaging in development, human rights and ‘capacities for peace' and for openly cooperating with military and political actors.
This series undertook a critical examination of the evolving dynamics and challenges related to different aspects of humanitarian space and associated trends of politicisation and securitisation of assistance. The meetings addressed a number of key questions and issues that have important implications for the nature and conditions of humanitarian action in contexts where humanitarian space is deemed to be restricted or contracting.