Sixth Issue – November 2017


Businesses and NGOs: the maturity of a debate

By Boris MartinFor a number of years, the humanitarian ecosystem has been undergoing changes. One of the reasons for the existence of our review is to accompany this transition and open it up for debate by inviting its actors and observers to exchange with each other. If there is one phenomenon that is emblematic of this transformation, it is the arrival of the for-profit sector in a field of activity which held it at a distance and on the margins for a long time. [Read more]


Humanitarian aid in Palestine: reconsidering neutrality through child protection

By Joan Deas & Elise Reslinger - In November 1947 the Partition Plan for Palestine was adopted, which would open the chapter of the Arab-Israeli wars. Seventy years later, the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continues to deteriorate, particularly in the Gaza Strip, caught up in a process of “de-development”. Joan Deas and Elise Reslinger, through the lens of Palestinian children protection, invite us to think and question the current aid paradigm, nowadays ossified by a managerial approach favoring a lack of accountability from the occupying power. [Read more]


Are NGOs the sole purveyors of honourable intentions?

By Mathieu Dufour - It’s an NGO that opens the dialogue and, through the voice of its financial director, gives an uninhibited and substantiated speech about companies and the bridges thrown with the humanitarian world. Evoking the virtues of social entrepreneurship, impact investing, blockchain or “social impact contracts”, Mathieu Dufour is not afraid to announce the imminent death of the theoretical break between the private sector and NGOs. [Read more]

Reconciliating economics and social concerns: the example of arcenciel in Lebanon

By Kristel Guyon - While social entrepreneurship still seems to be a recent innovation in France, the Lebanese association arcenciel chose this model more than thirty years ago. Kristel Guyon explains here the origins, the philosophy, the organisation and both the advantages and disadvantages of this hybrid model. [Read more]

When NGOs and lucrative organisations collaborate: the economic integration of refugees in Ecuador

By Lucie Laplace - As the problem of refugees is not confined to the European area, the collaboration between NGOs and companies is in the process of globalisation. Lucie Laplace’s article examines how the social integration of migrants in Ecuador is managed by humanitarian aid organisations within the framework of partnerships with actors from the profit-making sector. An experiment promoted by UNHCR which, according to the author, does not give the expected results. Above all, it would lead to a disempowerment of socio-political and economic actors. [Read more]

How the arrival of companies re-examines the notions of legitimacy and accountability: the example of cash transfer programmes

By Isabelle Schlaepfer  - Isabelle Schlaepfer invites us to a salutary perspective in the debate on the impact of the arrival of companies in the humanitarian field. Drawing on the recurring question of the legitimacy of NGOs, she demonstrates how the rules of the neo-managerialism influence the way of conceiving and putting into practice the accountability as much towards the donors, the governmental actors as towards the beneficiaries, more and more conceived as consumers of aid. [Read more]

Partnerships with private operators: the necessary debate among NGOs

By Anne-Aël Pohu  - To conclude – temporarily – this Focus, Anne-Ael Pohu addresses the particularly enlightening case of “private development companies”, these companies that were created almost exclusively to intervene on the field of development and humanitarian action. Perceiving public funds, outsourcing to NGOs to fulfil their commitments, they induce a real paradigm shift. NGOs would benefit from opening a real debate not to be swept away by this movement of substance. [Read more]


From resilience to localisation, or how slogans are not enough for an in-depth reform of the humanitarian sector

By Perrine Laissus-Benoist & Benoît Lallau -  At regular intervals, a new slogan echoes around the humanitarian sector, with unifying virtues that are supposed to embody its reform. Yet fads pass, and often the poor integration of innovations and new technologies is deplored. What must we conclude? The two authors undertake here a critical exercise, starting from resilience, and apprehending the implementation of the relatively recent, but promising, concept of localisation. [Read more]


New challenges in the context of violent urban settings

By Oscar Felipe Chavez Aguirre - Humanitarian intervention contexts are changing. Between battle-based conflicts and asymmetric wars involving fragile States, rebellions and mercenaries, urban violence – involving paramilitary militias, gangs and other armed groups – has developed. How can humanitarian action unfold in such contexts? [Read more]


Humanitarian Visa d’Or of the ICRC, 2011-2017: seven years of reflection

The regional delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in France created in 2011 the “Humanitarian Visa d’Or (Gold Visa)” in partnership with the prestigious International Festival of Photojournalism held in Perpignan, “Visa pour l’image” (Visa for Pictures). With an award of 8,000 euros, this prize recognises the photographer who will have been able to present, in 10 pictures, an issue concerning international humanitarian action and law. Between 2011 and 2014, “care in action” was selected by the jury, comprising representatives of international media and the humanitarian community. Since 2015, the theme of “women in war” has been proposed for the competition. The 2017 award winner, Angela Ponce Romero, 23 years old, exposed her work “Ayacucho, the missing in conflict” in Perpignan and was viewed, as the preceding ones, by more than 40,000 visitors. [Read more]


A philosophical investigation and the “Plight of Hospitality”



By Audrey Sala - Guillaume Le Blanc and Fabienne Brugère travelled all over Europe, from the Calais “jungle” to the Refugee Centre at Templehof Airport in Berlin. In this book, they recount their journey, challenging us to question the place of “refuge seekers” in our society. [Read more]


Lessons from the past to better manage the future


Publisher’s comments - The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa was an unprecedented medical and political emergency that cast an unflattering light on multiple corners of government and international response. Fear, not rational planning, appeared to drive many decisions made at population and leadership levels, which in turn brought about a response that was as uneven as it was unprecedented: entire populations were decimated or destroyed, vaccine trials were fast-tracked, health staff died, untested medications were used (or not used) in controversial ways, humanitarian workers returned home to enforced isolation, and military was employed to sometimes disturbing ends. [Read more]

Translators :

Mandy Duret • Fay Guerry • Sophie Jeangeorges • Alain Johnson • Juliet Powys • Benjamin Richardier • Derek Scoins

Acknowledgements for their voluntary contributions :

Fay Guerry • Frédéric Joli (CICR - France) • Laethicia Lamotte (Handicap International) • Pauline Restoux/Olivier Vercherand (In medias res) • Philip Wade