Governance Innovation

Engaging with the politics of humanitarian practice, and identifying opportunities for institutional reform.

  • Audience at HIP side event at ECOSOC 2013 - Governance Innovation

    Audience at HIP side event at ECOSOC 2013 - Governance Innovation

    Photo by Jean Francois-Durieux

Humanitarianism is generally understood to be apolitical and yet in order for it to be effective it needs to engage with and respond to its political context.

This leads to a need for reflection on  how the humanitarian system can adapt at an institutional level to better respond to politics at the global, regional, national, and local levels. It also gives rise to a more general challenge of  how we can think creatively about the global governance of humanitarianism, enabling institutional design to be fit for purpose in the Twenty First Century. This work takes a primarily International Relations perspective and seeks to inform policymakers in better institutional responses.

The work builds upon existing strengths at the Refugee Studies Centre, and extends the traditional focus on humanitarian innovation from improving operational responses to explore opportunities for innovation within institutional design.

Key outputs to date are: two RSC Occasional Policy Papers called
‘The Post-Nansen Agenda: the global governance of environmental displacement’ and ‘Principles for Ethical Humanitarian Innovation’, a Foreign Affairs piece (co-authored by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier) on designing responses to the Syria crisis, and a forthcoming textbook co-authored by Alexander Betts and Emily Paddon entitled The Politics and Practice of Humanitarianism (Oxford University Press).

To find out more about this sub-project contact Professor Alexander Betts.

"There can be no humanitarian solutions to humanitarian problems, only political ones."

Antonio Guterres
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees