The Humanitarian System: how does it affect humanitarian space?
An expansion of the ‘traditional’ boundaries of humanitarianism, with many agencies seeking to address the causes of crises and reduce the risks of suffering, is frequently cited as a key cause of (assumed) contracting humanitarian space. At the same time, a variety of commercial, security-management and other imperatives and incentives have affected the way in which aid agencies engage in conflict affected countries, including a growing reliance on national staff, local organisations and the services of security companies or protection of military actors to deliver assistance on the ground. This has potentially important implications for how agencies experience and respond to conditions of restricted or contracting humanitarian space.
This meeting questioned if, how and why the objectives, activities and coverage of key aid agencies (NGOs, UN and Red Cross/Red Crescent) have changed or expanded over time, and considered how the wider industry has changed in terms of the number, diversity and composition of agencies considered part of the system.