Zones of engagement: regional action and humanitarian response

March 2013 to March 2015

In recent years regional organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have assumed a more prominent role in responding to and preparing for crises in their neighbourhoods.

The existence of dedicated humanitarian departments within regional intergovernmental institutions points to a growing awareness of humanitarian issues within a number of different organisations; however, practical experience and response capacity remain limited in comparison to other multilateral organisations. Little is known about how regional organisations are tackling humanitarian issues, where, with what levels of capacity and resources and, most importantly, with what effect.

This project is designed to explore the role of regional organisations and the rationale for their involvement in humanitarian action. The degree to which their approaches may or may not differ from those of other humanitarian actors are research foci as well as if there are particular models of providing humanitarian assistance that may be used and/or built upon during or in advance of future crises. The project will also examine the implications for humanitarian norms, values and principles as they are generally understood by the humanitarian system.

While regional organisations are the key focus, their relationship with other organisations, particularly NGOs/humanitarian organisations (but also other inter-state bodies) will be an integral part of the research process. In addition, this study will examine the internal dynamics among regional bodies and how these contribute to or constrain the policies and models of humanitarian action they pursue. 


Regionalism and humanitarian action in West Africa and Southeast Asia

Research reports and studies | November 2015 | Alice Obrecht and Justin Armstrong
This paper examines what shapes regional organisation’s humanitarian approaches, drawing from an exchange programme between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Regional humanitarianism in action

Conference | 24 - 26 February 2015
​The first of its kind, this conference will bring together key regional organisations to discuss how to better respond to humanitarian crises on 24-26 Feburary 2015 in the International Humanitarian City in Dubai, UAE.
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Regional organisations and humanitarian action: the case of ASEAN

Working and discussion papers | October 2014 | Lilianne Fan and Hanna Krebs
This Working Paper seeks to understand how the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has responded to humanitarian crises such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines as well as Cyclone Nargis and the Rakhine State crisis in Myanmar. It also suggests ways forward...

Humanitarian action in the Arab region

Conference | 20 - 21 January 2014

The conference brought together key humanitarian organisations as well as multilateral and regional organisations from Europe and the Middle East to discuss challenges and opportunities for humanitarian action in the Arab region.

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The growing role of regional organisations in humanitarian action

Briefing papers | December 2013 | Steven A Zyck
Regional organisations are increasingly engaged with a wide variety of humanitarian issues, and international organisations are hopeful that they may help to share the work involved in responding to disasters, mediating conflicts and undertaking peacekeeping operations...

Regional organisations and humanitarian action

Research reports and studies | November 2013 | Steven A. Zyck
Regional organisations are frequently cited as key emerging actors in the humanitarian sphere. This paper examines the concepts and institutions underlying regional organisations before examining their contributions to three areas: the humanitarian response to refugee...

Cooperation from crisis? Regional responses to humanitarian emergencies

Research reports and studies | September 2013 | Jérémie Labbé, Lilianne Fan, and Walter Kemp
This policy paper examines how regional responses to humanitarian crises have succeeded or failed to meet humanitarian objectives in order to inform approaches to contemporary crises, with a historical look at regional responses to the war in the former Yogoslavia and...