International Bureaucracy and the Debasement of Mercy

Arthur C. Helton

in The Price of Indifference

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780199250318
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599477 | DOI:
 International Bureaucracy and the Debasement of Mercy

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Duplication of efforts is endemic in the humanitarian ‘new economy’ that has emerged over the past decade, and gaps are more prevalent than structure in international humanitarian action. Any future impetus for reform of the humanitarian components of the UN, moreover, must come from outside system, if at all. The problem of internal displacement could provide this impetus. Nevertheless, decisive reform is needed, and the bureaucratic trend is clear —consolidation of the varieties of entities and functions involved in the provision of humanitarian assistance and protection in order to become more effective. This trend should be promoted and institutionalized. Ultimately what is needed is a consolidated UN humanitarian agency with a fully integrated budget and programme, an Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with budgetary, and programmatic authority.

Keywords: bureaucracy; duplication; humanitarian agency; humanitarian assistance; institutionalization; internal displacement; protection; UN reform

Chapter.  11423 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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