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Towards good humanitarian government: The role of the affected state in disaster response

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Paul Harvey

Briefing/policy papers

Research relating to humanitarian crises has largely focused on what international aid agencies and donor governments do in response to disasters. Much less attention has been given to analysis of the role of the affected state in responding to the needs of its own citizens.

This policy brief attempts to fill that gap and argues that a long overdue reappraisal of the roles and responsibilities of states in relation to humanitarianaction is finally taking place.

The key messages from the brief are:

· One of the goals of international humanitarian actors should always be to encourage and support states to fulfil their responsibilities to assist and protect their own citizens in times of disaster.

·  Too often, aid agencies have neglected the central role of the state, and neutrality and independence have been taken as shorthand for disengagement from state structures, rather than as necessitating principled engagement with them.

· States should invest their own resources in assisting and protecting their citizens in disasters, both because it is the humane thing to do and because it can be politically popular and economically effective.

Paul Harvey