Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Principles, Power, and Perceptions

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.

The issues are organized and analyzed around four interrelated “petals”: the universality of humanitarianism, the implications of terrorism and counter-terrorism for humanitarian action, the search for coherence between humanitarian and political agendas, and the security of humanitarian personnel and the beneficiaries of humanitarian action.

Six case studies—Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Liberia, northern Uganda and the Sudan—provide the basis for the analysis, conclusions and recommendations contained in this report. Additional case studies—Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Occupied Palestinian Territories—are planned as part of phase two of the research.

The approach is evidence-based. The focus is on local perceptions. Generic and country-specific findings are distilled through an inductive process involving interviews and focus group meetings at the community level aimed at eliciting perceptions of local people on the functioning of the humanitarian enterprise. Additional data was gathered through interviews with aid community staff and an electronic survey of headquarters personnel. Readers are encouraged to make their own assessments of the field data, which is available on the web.

The findings highlight the crisis of humanitarianism in the post-9/11 world. They show that action aimed at alleviating the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable has been for the most part incorporated into a northern political and security agenda.






thumbnail image of report cover

This briefing describes the key elements and issues associated with conflict in pastoralist areas across sub-Saharan Africa.

thumbnail image of report cover

Ce document d’information décrit les éléments clés et les enjeux associés aux conflits dans les zones pastorales d’Afrique subsaharienne.

Thumbnail image of report cover

This study examines how anticipatory action was perceived and experienced among Ethiopians living with drought alongside other crises.

Image of Brief Cover: Actingin in Advance of Flooding

In 2022 UN OCHA led a pilot anticipatory action intervention in South Sudan. This brief presents UN actors’ perceptions of this intervention.

Report cover thumbnail

This report provides insights and perspectives from participatory workshops with displaced female youth in the Kurdistan region of the Republic of Iraq (KRI).

Cover of Report "Sex, age (and more) still matter"

This report reviews progress, outlines barriers to further progress, and makes recommendations to advance gender equality in the humanitarian system.

Load more