IRRC No. 856

Privatization, Outsourcing and Public-private Partnerships: or

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Today's tendency to privatize or outsource many activities hitherto considered the exclusive preserve of the State has given rise to sharp debate. This phenomenon is of direct concern to humanitarian organizations when it involves essential public services such as the water supply and health care. Privatizing the realms of defence and security - the very core of state prerogative - raises serious legal and humanitarian questions. In this article the author takes a brief look at developments in the interaction between the State and the private sector, as well as at the emergence of the non-profit sector. The specific nature of humanitarian emergencies brings out in particularly stark contrast some of the main challenges related to the privatization and outsourcing of public services and security.

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