IRRC No. 884

Opportunity knocks: why non-Western donors enter humanitarianism and how to make the best of it

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Non-Western countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, and Turkey have all started to take part in global humanitarian action. Their engagement raises a number of fundamental questions: how will the diversification of government donors affect humanitarian activities and principles; and how will it affect the people and governments of crisis-affected countries or humanitarian organizations? This article finds that the rise of non-Western donors involves both risks, such as normative conflicts, and great potential, such as increased access and more resources. It also finds that non-Western humanitarian engagement has become too substantial to ignore and that opportunities can only be seized and risks mitigated if traditional actors actively engage with non-Western donors on a level playing field.

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