Seventh Issue – March 2018


Squaring the circle

By Boris Martin - Everybody has heard of the concept of squaring the circle, unsolved since ancient times, referring to the mathematical challenge of constructing a square with the same area as a given circle with a compass and a ruler. Humanitarian action has its own equivalent – amongst many others: the growing cohabitation of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) with the private sector. [Read more]


Humanitarians in the age of counter terrorism: rejected by rebels, co-opted by States

By Michiel Hofman - Because rhetoric – and practice – of the fight against terrorism drives rebel movements to the edges of International Humanitarian Law, NGOs would be more and more under the influence of States. The analysis developed by Michiel Hofman is based on concrete examples permitting us to be quite often – so to speak – in the midst of humanitarian negotiations. [Read more ]

The Rohingya refugee crisis: forgotten then, forgotten now

By Tarik Kadir - Lifted with difficulty to the category of major crisis, the situation of the Rohingya refugees at the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh is forever bogging down. Whilst the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has declared that “this seemed to be a classical example of ethnic cleansing”, Western chanceries are hesitating, hindered by the ambiguous position of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Tarik Kadir, engaged in the field alongside Secours Islamique France, explains to us the situation, its origins and its perspectives. [Read more ]


The ICRC and partnerships with the private sector: evolution and ethical considerations

By Jessica Fleurinor and Caroline Putman Cramer - Jessica Fleurinor and Caroline Putnam Cramer invite us to an extension of the first part of our Focus theme. The International Committee of the Red Cross effectively did not have before the opportunity of presenting its approach to partnerships with the private sector. This is now the case, within a perspective going from the banker Dunant to the presence of the ICRC within the World Economic Forum (WEF) and comprising the Corporate Support Group especially created within the institution. [Read more]

Refugees wedged between corporate malfunctions and the lack of State involvement: the example of a cash programme in Cameroon

By Pierre Boris N’nde - Cash-transfer programmes are now widespread in humanitarian settings, just as partnerships with companies that promote them. Here is the case of the Gado Badzéré refugee camp in Cameroon. For Pierre Boris N’nde, the unsuccessful initiatives of Mobile Telecommunication Networks breached the “do no harm” principle and resulted in violence that was left for NGOs to manage. The Cameroon State, positioning itself in terms of security, here failed in its role as arbitrator. [Read more]

“What’s important, is the mission and that everyone be inspired by common guidelines”

Interview with Patrice Paoli - Patrice Paoli is the director of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs Crisis Centre. While the French State reaffirms its desire to involve companies and foundations in humanitarian action, it was essential to know more about this approach. For Patrice Paoli, it is based on pragmatism, collective action and the effective synergy of the means of each actor. NGOs now must position themselves according to this roadmap. [Read more ]

Social Impact Bonds or the pyromaniac State

By Joël Le Corre - The subject of “social impact bonds” was first raised by Mathieu Dufour in his article, “Are NGOs the sole purveyors of honourable intentions”, published in the previous issue of this review. Here, Joël Le Corre takes a closer look at this mechanism, examining it from the perspective of companies, which are the first to use it, focusing mainly on the State’s role in implementing a policy which, although innovative, is contested by NGOs.[Read more]


“We should be as ambitious in protection of civilians as we have become in assistance”

Interview with Jan Egeland - Former United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland is Secretary General of the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council. Last January, he gave us an interview during which he reviewed the current major humanitarian issues. [Read more]


Snakebites in Africa: a humanitarian and political fight

By Julien Potet - This is an innovation probably ignored by the public at large and maybe even by some of the humanitarian actors. With 100,000 mortal bites per year, poisoning by snakes is now considered as a neglected tropical disease. Julien Potet explains to us how Médecins Sans Frontières has seized this issue to make a fight out of it that is both humanitarian and political. [Read more]


The MAPS’s Collective

Humanitarian Alternatives is widening the furrow of its partnership with photographers. Because the sensitivity that emerges from the work already done by MAPS’s 12 photographers echoes this fundamental concern of humanitarians –  to see the world as it is –, we present here a selection of their photographs.  [Read more]


Crazy Guidelines

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• • @rashbrax

Re-politicizing NGOs

By Lucie Laplace -The issue of the CETRI journal Alternatives Sud for the second half of 2017 provides an interesting contribution to the debate that has been at the centre of the last two issues of Humanitarian Alternatives. The seven articles it contains raise questions by re-politicizing the issue of co-operation between NGOs and public and private (in particular for profit) stakeholders. They help to explain the causes of the de-politicization of NGOs, the challenges arising from the development of neoliberalism, tending to reduce the role of the State and change the organizational culture of NGOs (the instrumentalization to which NGOs are subject, the professionalization of management, paternalism and systematic reform, both often privileged), as announced in the editorial by Julie Godin.[Read more]

The build-up of camps in Europe


By Julien Antouly -Between Lesbos and Calais, an endless string of confinement facilities punctuate a migrant’s journey. Be they shantytowns, refugee camps, retention centres, or migrant “hotspots”, these sites have transformed border zones into spaces for living and waiting. The resurgence of refugee camps in Europe marks a turning point that draws our attention on a crisis of hospitality that up to now has provided temporary relief and confinement as the sole alternatives for managing today’s migratory flows.[Lire la suite]

Translators :

• Méline Bernard • Mandy Duret • Gabriel Grandjouan • Fay Guerry • Sophie Jeangeorges • Alain Johnson • Gauthier Lesturgie • Juliet Powys

Retranscription :

• Frédérique Morin-Bironneau • Benjamin Richardier

Acknowledgements for their voluntary contribution to this issue:

Brax • Anne Degroux (Collectif MAPS) • Pierre Failler/Secours Islamique France • Fay Guerry
• Laethicia Lamotte (Handicap International) • Pauline Restoux/ Olivier Vercherand (In medias res) • Virginie Troit (Fondation Croix- Rouge française)
• Philip Wade