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Shaping policy for development

An overview of Lagoro IDP camp in Kitgum District, northern Uganda, 20 May 2007. Manoocher Deghati/IRIN

Principles, politics and the humanitarian system

Flags of member nations flying at United Nations Headquarters (UN Photo/Joao Araujo)

This area of focus aims to enhance understanding of the evolving institutions and principles of humanitarian action and politics.

HPG looks at the ‘humanitarian system’ itself and how the nature of action is affected by the way the system is configured and operates. A substantial increase in the number and variety of humanitarian actors and growing pressure for greater coherence between humanitarians, development actors and politicians, raises difficult challenges for effective and principled action at both operational and policy levels.

Here, HPG explores the effects of new strategic interests of powerful states – such as the ‘stabilisation’ agenda pursued by the US and its allies – and of key international policy developments impacting on the humanitarian system. It also explores and seeks to inform the way humanitarian agencies and the wider international system respond to the challenges and dilemmas involved in pursuing principled humanitarian engagement in difficult political and security environments, addressing questions of identity, access and security.