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Cornell College

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Switzerland: Global Health and Development Policy


In the international humanitarian aid community (IHAC), a group of national, political, public, and private actors, there are many dichotomies. These differences range from the organizations’ structures to their humanitarian philosophies. One philosophical schism amongst the IHAC actors is the seemingly contradictory approaches of the UN’s cluster system and that of the Dunantist organizations. In general, this schism can be characterized as a contrast in humanitarian ideologies; the integrated approach, which includes political development, on the one hand, and strict humanitarian aid that stays removed from issues of development on the other.

It was not the focus of my research to debate the validity of these two approaches, or to argue that one is favorable to the other. Instead, this study examines whether or not these approaches can coexist in a beneficial manner. That is to say, does the schism in the approach to humanitarian action have a negative, positive, or negligible impact on the ability of the IHAC to deliver resources to those in need on the ground? After examining the various IHAC actors, multiple humanitarian approaches, and several field cases, this report will demonstrate how the integrated and strict approaches’ simultaneous and separate existence from each other helps to balance and improve the entire IHAC’s ability to provide assistance in many more ways and in many more contexts.


Inequality and Stratification | Organizational Behavior and Theory | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


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