IFRC

World Disasters Report 2003 - Ethics in aid

"A solid, meticulously researched, and highly informational presentation, World Disasters Report… is a welcome and much appreciated addition to academic, governmental, and professional studies". Mid-West Book Review


The ‘war on terror’ is changing the landscape in which humanitarian organizations operate. What ethical dilemmas and moral trade-offs do humanitarians face in an increasingly politicized environment? Is aid really reaching those in greatest need? Do we even know where humanitarian needs are greatest? What are the key principles to help to guide aid programming in the field? Soldiers and commercial contractors now play a major part in disaster relief and recovery. How should humanitarian organizations deal with this new reality?

The report by chapters


Chapter 1 - Humanitarian ethics in disaster and war
The humanitarian ethic is an ancient and resilient conviction that it is right to help anyone in grave danger. This deeply-held value is found in every culture and faith, as well as in the political ideology of human rights. The ideas of the ‘right to life’ and an essential ‘human dignity’ common to all people are framed in international humanitarian law (IHL), human rights conventions and the principles espoused by humanitarian organizations.

Chapter 2 - Building capacity - the ethical dimensions
In the hours and days after disaster strikes, local communities often spontaneously undertake search and rescue, assess damage, handle the dead and distribute relief supplies before external agencies even arrive. In slow-onset disasters like famines – which don't generate such urgent media or donor attention – local organizations are often the first to raise the alarm and remain highly motivated to reduce future risks after international agencies have gone home.


Chapter 3 - Famine stalks southern Africa
By early 2003, 15 million people were threatened with starvation across southern Africa. Yet the first evidence of a looming crisis emerged in mid-2001. Despite warnings from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in autumn 2001, the region’s governments initially denied the emergency existed and for nine months donors delayed their responses.

Chapter 4 - Afghanistan - power politics or ethical principles?
11 September 2001 propelled Afghanistan from being a largely forgotten country to the forefront of world attention. The US-led attack that toppled the Taliban regime paved the way for political transition and the chance of peace after more than 20 years of war. But many problems remain. Security is arguably worse now than under the Taliban.


Chapter 5 - Afghanistan - power politics or ethical principles? Over 175 million people now live outside their countries of birth – double the figure in 1975. Many are economic migrants, who may be fleeing poverty and severe deprivation. They are an important development resource for their home countries, remitting about US$ 80 billion per year to developing nations (compared to US$ 50 billion in world aid)


Chapter 6 - Measuring the impact of humanitarian aid
Knowing and being transparent about the effects of one’s actions is part of being an accountable organization. Yet the measurements of success too often focus on ‘outputs’ only – how many tonnes of food aid or blankets delivered, how many cubic metres of clean water provided, how much cash spent per capita.

Chapter 7 - Measuring disasters: challenges, opportunities and ethics
How many people are killed or affected by disasters globally every year? Where and when do disasters occur? What causes the casualties? These questions appear simple, yet the answers are vitally important for informed decision-making. Humanitarian aid tends to follow in the wake of high-profile conflicts.

Chapter 8 - Disaster data: key trends and statistics
How many people are killed or affected by disasters globally every year? Where and when do disasters occur? What causes the casualties? These questions appear simple, yet the answers are vitally important for informed decision-making. Humanitarian aid tends to follow in the wake of high-profile conflicts.



Press release

“War on terror” exposes double standards in humanitarian aid as millions suffer in forgotten disasters

International efforts to curb global terrorism are posing major ethical dilemmas which threaten ...


La Fédération internationale des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge constitue, avec ses 190 Sociétés nationales membres, le plus vaste réseau humanitaire du monde. En tant que membres du Mouvement international de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge, nous sommes guidés dans notre travail par sept Principes fondamentaux: humanité, impartialité, neutralité, indépendance, volontariat, unité et universalité.