Antonio Donini

Antonio DoniniVisiting Fellow

Antonio Donini works on issues relating to humanitarianism and the future of humanitarian action as well as on Afghanistan. He is also a research associate at the Geneva Graduate Institute’s Programme for the Study of Global Migration. From 2004 to 2013 he was a senior researcher at Feinstein. Prior to joining the Center he worked for 26 years in the United Nations in research, evaluation, and humanitarian capacities. His last post was as Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (1999-2002).

Before going to Afghanistan Antonio was chief of the Lessons Learned Unit at OCHA, where he managed a program of independent studies on the effectiveness of relief efforts in complex emergencies. He has considerable experience in doing research in volatile or fraught contexts and experience in collecting and analyzing the perceptions of groups affected by crisis and conflict.

Antonio has published widely on humanitarian policy and practice issues, including on Afghanistan. In 2004 he co-edited the volume Nation-Building Unraveled? Aid, Peace, and Justice in Afghanistan (Kumarian Press). He coordinated the Humanitarian Agenda 2015 research project which analyzed local perceptions of humanitarian action in 13 crisis countries and authored the final HA 2015 report, The State of the Humanitarian Enterprise. He also published an edited volume on the politicization and manipulation of humanitarian action: The Golden Fleece: Manipulation and Independence in Humanitarian Action, Kumarian Press, 2012.

Feinstein Publications

Regional Humanitarian Challenges in the Sahel

The Sahel rarely makes headlines. Until the early 2000s, it was on the margins of geopolitical interest and of humanitarian action and debate. Today, the Sahel is on center stage…

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Structural Violence and Social Suffering among Marginal Nepali Migrants

Over the past decade, Nepal has witnessed a rapid process of social transformation which has accelerated after the end of the “people’s war”. In this report, the third in our…

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Afghanistan: Humanitarianism in Uncertain Times

The Afghan crisis, now well into its fourth decade, has many layers. The military and political dimensions of the crisis grab the headlines. But the structural violence and poor governance…

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From Subjects to Citizens? Labor, Mobility & Social Transformation in Rural Nepal

Nepal is on the cusp of a major “transformation” from a relatively stable condition of reproduction of social and economic relations based on feudal and caste strictures to a more…

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Towards a “Great Transformation”? The Maoist Insurgency and Local Perceptions of Social Transformation in Nepal

This report presents the findings of a two-year field research project on local perceptions of social transformation in rural Nepal. The findings, and our interpretations of them, are presented in…

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Afghanistan: Humanitarianism Unraveled?
By Antonio Donini | May 2010

Researchers at the Feinstein International Center (FIC) at Tufts University have embarked on a major two-year research project on Humanitarian Action and Politics. This project builds upon and expands on…

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Aid and Violence Development Policies and Conflict in Nepal
Cover photo-Aid and Violence Report
By Antonio Donini | June 2009

This project arose from earlier Tufts/FIC field-based research on local perceptions of the work of aid agencies in Nepal during which the conflict/development failure angle emerged as a recurring theme.

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Aid and Violence Development Policies and Conflict in Nepal

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) launched its “People’s War” in 1996. The Maoists’ rise to power was impressive by any standard. After a successful showing at the polls for…

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Afghanistan: Humanitarianism under Threat
By Antonio Donini | March 2009

Based on extensive field interviews in Afghanistan, this briefing paper is an update of a 2006 study on perceptions of humanitarian action in Afghanistan, which was part of the Humanitarian…

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Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Nepal Country Study
By Antonio Donini, Jeevan Raj Sharma | August 2008

This study is the twelfth and final country case study of the “Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Principles, Power and perceptions” (HA2015) research project. As with the other case studies it attempts…

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Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Final Report The State of the Humanitarian Enterprise

This report summarizes the findings of a major research project on the constraints, challenges, and compromises affecting humanitarian action in conflict and crisis settings. The building blocks are 12 case…

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Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Principles, Power, and Perceptions Preliminary Report

This report summarizes the findings of the first phase of a major research project on the challenges and compromises that are likely to affect humanitarian action in the next decade….

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Humanitarian Agenda 2015 : Afghanistan Country Study
By Antonio Donini | June 2006

The four themes of the HA 2015 research come together in Afghanistan with clear-cut relevance. The externality of the aid enterprise and the baggage that comes with it—values, lifestyle, attitude,…

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Mapping the Security Environment Understanding the perceptions of local communities, peace support operations, and assistance agencies

The data presented and analyzed by the study in three cases-Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone-offers intriguing and provocative look at the wide-ranging security needs of local communities and the uneven…

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Ambiguity and Change Humanitarian NGOs Prepare for the Future

This study provides international NGOs with a rudimentary framework for strategic planning in the light of the likely challenges of ambiguity and change awaiting them during the next decade. It…

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Feinstein Research Projects

Planning From the Future

The Planning From the Future project aims to influence the direction of ‘non-traditional’ and traditional humanitarian actors to help them deal with a rapidly changing and potentially increasingly vulnerable world.

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Humanitarian Agenda 2015 Principles, Power, and Perceptions
By Antonio Donini | September 2013

Over the past three years, Tufts/FIC has conducted 12 country case studies on local perceptions of the work of humanitarian agencies. The objective was to understand, from the perspective of those most affected by crisis and conflict, whether humanitarian action was seen as responding to a universal imperative or as an externally-driven approach linked to Northern and Western agendas.

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Sovereignty, Globalization, and the Future of Humanitarian Action
By Antonio Donini | September 2013

What is the future of the time-tested universalist principles around which humanitarian action is organized (neutrality, impartiality, independence) in a more complex, globalized but also potentially more polarized world?

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Crisis and Social Transformation in Nepal
By Antonio Donini | August 2013

How does the work of aid agencies during and after conflict affect people’s perceptions of change? What can we learn from recent experience? Our work in Nepal has uncovered a number of interesting issues around the humanitarian-development relationship and the challenges of social transformation in a (hopefully) post-conflict environment that we feel are important to research both because they are largely unexplored and because of their potential policy implications.

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News Items

Feinstein participation at WHS highlighted by Friedman School
June 21, 2016

On June 20, 2016, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy featured the following article: The world is witnessing the highest level of human suffering resulting from conflict and…

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Feinstein faculty sign humanitarian scholars commitment at WHS
May 25, 2016

Dan Maxwell, Helen Young, and Antonio Donini joined the more than 60 scholars present at the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and signed the Statement of Commitments from Humanitarian Scholars at…

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Feinstein faculty participate in the World Humanitarian Summit
May 10, 2016

The first ever World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul, Turkey on May 23-24, 2016. The summit aimed to set a forward-looking agenda for humanitarian action that addresses future humanitarian…

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