IIMA attends the panel on “ Humanitarian Principles in a changing world: Bridging the gap between policy and practice”

On the 26th of April, IIMA attended a panel on “Humanitarian Principles in a Changing World: Bridging the Gap between Policy and Practice”, organized by Caritas Internationalis. The meeting was opened by the speech of the moderator, Mr. Alistair Dutton, Humanitarian Director of Caritas Internationalis, which presented the four humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality, humanity and impartiality, recalling that September 11th was a turning point for humanitarian interventions.

After the moderator’s speech, Mr. Jan Weuts, Emergency Aid Coordinator of Caritas Belgium, explained that humanitarian workers are adversely affected by the fact that they often have to act in conjunction with international military missions: actually, this situation prevents humanitarian activities from being perceived as totally impartial and neutral. Next to speak, Mr. Fabrizio Carboni, Deputy Head of Division Multilateral Organization of ICRC, talked about the need for confidentiality and trust between local authorities and humanitarian actors. He remarked upon the importance for NGOs to work in accordance with humanitarian principles and try to be perceived as neutral actors in the field, a quality which is essential to carrying out humanitarian interventions. A confirmation of that is the fact that in the Ivory Coast the work of several NGOs, like UNICEF, has been halted by the government because it was considered as partial. The last panelist, Ms. Sara Tesorieri, EU Advocacy Manager of NRC, raised the issue of funding and donors, affirming that while donors are committed to humanitarian principles, often budget lines for training and monitoring are cut off from proposals. After the discussion, some questions were raised concerning the neutrality and independence of NGOs, the possible link with UN action and the importance of international actors to act in cooperation with national capacities. In conclusion, Mr. Dutton thanked the panelists for the very interesting discussion and highlighted the importance for NGOs to assume a well defined position as active and effective humanitarian actors.