- Code INTR3001
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Department of International Relations
- ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
- Course subject International Relations
- Areas of interest International Relations
- Academic career UGRD
- Mode of delivery In Person
- Offered in See Future Offerings
When large-scale human suffering occurs, does the international community have a responsibility to assist? Who exactly should take action? What principles should guide these actors? What is the role of law and politics in humanitarian action? This course examines international responses to human suffering caused by armed conflict, mass atrocities and complex humanitarian disasters to address these questions. We look at the history and development of law and institutions that shape contemporary international humanitarian action. We consider the changing global security context in which humanitarian action takes place, and examine the actors involved in humanitarian action, from non-state, to state and multilateral actors. The course will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the concepts, politics and practice of humanitarianism, and with skills to analyse current trends and developments in this important area of international politics.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
On completion of the course, students should have developed:
1. Understand the key conceptual, theoretical and and political debates relevant to humanitarianism as a field of study and practice.
2. A deep knowledge of the historical evolution of the legal frameworks and organizations that shape contemporary humanitarian practice.
3. Ability to apply various theoretical and analytical approaches to important humanitarian issues in global politics.
4. Strong ability to communicate ideas and arguments related to the subject matter effectively through written and verbal expression.
1. Seminar Presentation 10% [LO - 1, 2, 4]
2. Book Review, 10% [LO - 1, 3, 4]
3. Review Essay 30% [LO - 1, 3, 4]
4. Major research essay 50% [LO - 1-4]
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2-hour weekly lecture (x12), 1-hour weekly tutorial (x 12). 7 hours personal study: Weekly reading(60-80 pages per week).
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsBarnett, Michael (2011) The Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism (Cornell: Cornell University Press)
Elizabeth G. Ferris (2011) The Politics of Protection: The Limits of Humanitarian Action. (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.)
Acuto, Michele (ed.) (2014) Negotiating Relief: The Politics of Humanitarian Space (London: Hurst &
Anderson, Mary (1999) Do no harm: how aid can support peace or war (Boulder, Colo. : Lynne Rienner Publishers).
Barnett, Michael and Thomas Weiss eds, (2008) Humanitarianism in Question: Politics, Power, and Ethics,
Cornell: Cornell University Press (Cornell University Press: Ithaca).
Barnett, Michael & Thomas Weiss (2011) Humanitarianism Contested: Where Angels Fear to Tread. (London
& New York: Routledge).
Chaulia, Sreeram (2011) International Organizations and Civilian Protection: Power, Ideas and Humanitarian Aid in Conflict Zones (London and New York: I.B. Taurus)
de Waal, Alex(1997) Famine crimes: politics and the disaster relief industry in Africa (http://library.anu.edu.au/
record=b2003089) (James Currey and IAI London).
Fassin, Didier (2012) Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present. (Berkely: University of California Press)
Hoffman, P.J. and T.G.Weiss, eds, (2006) Sword and salve (Rowman and Little).
Jacob, Cecilia and Cook, Alistair D.B. (eds) (2016) Civilian Protection in the Twenty-first Century: Governance and Responsibility in a Fragmented World. (New Delhi: Oxford University Press)
OCHA, (2004) The Humanitarian Decade, Vol. 2, (New York, UN OCHA).
Rieff, David (2002) A bed for the night: humanitarianism in crisis (http://library.anu.edu.au/record=b2153921)
Shapcott, Richard (2010) International ethics: a critical introduction (Cambridge: Polity)
Terry, Fiona (2002) The paradox of humanitarian action: condemned to repeat? (Cornell University Press:
Ithaca and London).
Walker, Peter and Daniel Maxwell (2009) Shaping the Humanitarian World (London and New York:
Weiss, Thomas G. (2012) The Humanitarian Business. (Cambridge; Malden, Ma: Polity).
Weiss, Thomas G. (2012) Humanitarian Intervention: War and Conflict in the Modern World (Cambridge; Malden, Ma: Polity).
Barnett, Michael ‘Humanitarianism transformed’ Perspectives on Politics, December 2005, vol 3: 4.
Chandler, David (2001), ‘The road to military humanitarianism: How the Human Rights NGOs shaped the new
humanitarian agenda’ Human Rights Quarterly vol. 23: 3.
Cutts, Mark (1998) ‘Politics and Humanitarianism’ Refugee Quarterly vol. 17: 1.
DeTorrente, Nicolas (2004) ‘Humanitarian Action Under Attack: Reflections on the Iraq War’ Harvard Human
Rights Journal vol. 17, pp. 1 29.
Mills, Kurt (2005) ‘Neo Humanitarianism – The role of international humanitarian norms and organization in
contemporary conflict’ Global Governance vol. 11, pp.161183.
Parmlee, Maurice (1915) ‘The Rise of Modern Humanitarianism’ The American Journal of Sociology vol.21: 3,
Pictet, Jean (1979) The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross : commentary. Available at
Slim, Hugo (2001), ‘Not Philanthropy But Right: Rights Based Humanitarianism and the Proper Politicisation of Humanitarian Philosophy’, Seminar on the politics of Humanitarian Aid: Debates Dilemmas and Dissension,
Commonwealth Institute, London, Feb. 1, 2001.
Warner, Daniel (1999) ‘The politics of the political/humanitarian divide’ International Review of the Red Cross,
no. 833, 109118.
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