Humanitarian - development divide: too wide to bridge?

Studenteropgave: Kandidatspeciale og HD afgangsprojekt

  • Giedre Dudaite
4. semester, Udviklingsstudier, Kandidat (Kandidatuddannelse)
This paper aims at explaining why humanitarian and development actors have been unable to bridge the humanitarian - development divide. The special focus is put on the latest attempt on a global level to address this issue - the World Humanitarian Summit. This paper analyses the global policy level and aims to examine whether the challenges that were present in the past and identified in the literature are still relevant today, how they were addressed during and after the World Humanitarian Summit, what new challenges have appeared and what is the state of the global policy today.

In order to answer the question, the network on bridging humanitarian - development divide is conceptualized as a network of various humanitarian and development actors, acting on multiple levels. The framework for analysis stems from the five challenges identified in the literature on humanitarian - development divide. And the governance and network theories act as theoretical sources to explain and analyse these challenges. For the purpose of this paper, four interviews were conducted with policy experts from Doctors Without Borders, United Nations Development Programme, European Commission department for humanitarian aid, and NGO network Voice. Additionally, various policy documents were analysed from the World Humanitarian Summit, UN agencies, and various reports from different actors.

The analysis revealed, that challenges that were identified in the previous literature are still valid today. In addition, the analysis has revealed that new challenges and problematic areas have emerged since the World Humanitarian Summit. The World Humanitarian Summit did propose some solutions to the well-known challenges, however, some of them are not popular amongst the actors, or are unclear, or lack political will or leadership. On the other hand, the analysis revealed that as long as the humanitarian - development sector is fractioned and shaped by mandates, it will be hard to achieve the collective outcomes. While the guidelines on preserving the humanitarian principles are not clarified, the humanitarian actors will keep distrusting the development and state actors. Most importantly, as long as the concepts of humanitarian - development nexus and the divide are not agreed upon, the actors will have different interpretations of their common goal. If the leadership is not clear and the accountability frameworks are not set up, the policy will lack ownership and might end up being another semi-failed attempt to bridge the divide. Finally, if the resource flow is not ensured, the actors will remain independent and will not have an incentive to pursue the policy.
The humanitarian and development actors do acknowledge the need to address the nexus and there is willingness from the actors to work on it on global, state and field levels. And the momentum of the World Humanitarian Summit is still there. It means that future will show whether humanitarian and development actors will be able to overcome their differences and advance the policy to bridge the divide in order to meets people's needs, reduce vulnerability and enhance their resilience.
Udgivelsesdato15 feb. 2018
ID: 269426384