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The growing role of regional organisations in humanitarian action

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Steven A Zyck

The research findings are also available as a larger working paper: “Regional organisations and humanitarian action”.

This Policy Brief explores the role regional organisations are increasingly playing in a wide variety of humanitarian issues. International organisations are hopeful that regional organisations may help to share the work involved in responding to disasters, mediating conflicts and undertaking peacekeeping operations. There have been a number of prominent examples where they have done so.

Key messages:

  • Regional institutions are most engaged with humanitarian issues when they are not seen as threatening state sovereignty, when they are financed by donors from outside of the region, when they are framed in technical terms and when they are part of broader global processes.
  • Regional organisations are increasingly active in humanitarian action, developing specialised policies and institutions to tackle issues such as emergency response, disaster risk reduction and conflict management.
  • Regional organisations have received credit for signing international agreements and establishing institutions regardless of the enforcement of those agreements or the effectiveness of those institutions. Those studying and interested in working with these organisations must consider the impact of their activities upon the wellbeing of crisis-affected people and institutions.

An output of the following project: 
Zones of engagement: regional action and humanitarian response

Steven A Zyck