Politicization of Humanitarian Aid in the 21st Century

Andrew P Ehrenfeld, Fordham University


The politicization of humanitarian aid is one of the most polarizing issues facing the humanitarian sector today. There is a lack of consensus on the suitability and impact that aid politician has on humanitarian response efforts. Traditional humanitarians, known as Dunantists, argue that it has forced them to violate their core principles and, as a result, has contributed to human suffering. New humanitarians, known as Wilsonians, would contend that the linking of aid and politics is necessary to enhance the capacity of the humanitarian community and increase the effectiveness of aid operations. After examining historical shifts in humanitarianism, a review of the characteristics of aid politicization is conducted and the consequences it has on the broader community of humanitarian actors (governments, international NGOs, the UN, private organizations) is discussed. The analytical part of the thesis concludes with a case study of three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Haiti – that have a long history with humanitarian emergencies and are each still suffering from disaster and conflict today. This thesis will assess the impact that the politicization of aid has on complex humanitarian emergencies and whether or not it helps bring relief to human suffering.

Subject Area

Political science|International Relations|Peace Studies|Religion

Recommended Citation

Ehrenfeld, Andrew P, "Politicization of Humanitarian Aid in the 21st Century" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28496531.