The Changing Role of Official Donors in Humanitarian Action: A Review of Trends and Issues

Briefing papers
December 2002
Joanna Macrae

Historically, humanitarian assistance accounted for only a very small part of official aid programmes, and attracted relatively little scrutiny and attention. During the 1990s, however, humanitarian issues became mainstreamed into international relations, and more explicitly linked to efforts to enhance international peace and security.

This paper reports on a study of the changing role of donor governments in the management of humanitarian assistance. Based on field studies, documentary reviews and case studies of official donors in the UK, Denmark, Canada and the US, as well as ECHO, it identifies the implications of this trend, and proposes an agenda to define ‘good donorship’ in the humanitarian sphere.

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