Debate | Humanitarian Action and Protection
The paper addresses the protection dimension of humanitarian action in the Sri Lankan Civil War. The end phase of this long-standing war and subsequent internment of survivors illustrate the limited capacity of the international relief system to adequately protect civilians. The author argues that the failure of intergovernmental crisis management and the human rights machinery was exacerbated by the relief system’s lack of agency in safeguarding humanitarian space and the protected status of civilians. According to Norah Niland, relief actors largely ignored the instrumentalisation of humanitarianism and the use of sovereignty and Global War on Terror (GWOT) narratives to rationalise the slaughter of thousands. The lack of accountability for and reflection on the humanitarian operation in Sri Lanka will likely complicate future relief efforts and add to the suffering of civilians in other crisis settings.
Sri Lanka: Unrestricted Warfare and Limited Protective Humanitarian Action
Reaction and Analysis:
Sir John Holmes, Former UN Under-Secretary General and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Comments to ‘Sri Lanka: Unrestricted warfare and limited protective humanitarian action, by Norah Niland’
Miriam Bradley, Postdoctoral Researcher, Programme for the Study of International Governance, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
Sri Lanka: Limited Humanitarian Action — Or a Lesson in the Limits of Humanitarian Action?
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