The Dynamic Humanitarian: Has Traditional Humanitarianism Become Obsolete?

Camille Elisabeth de Carbonnel, Fordham University


This thesis examines the changing nature of humanitarianism in order to address questions surrounding the field's ultimate purpose. A long standing goal of humanitarian organizations has been to relieve the suffering of populations across the globe in the face of conflict and disaster alike. Theoretically, eliminating suffering negates the need for humanitarian work, thus raising questions as to whether the ultimate end goal of humanitarian work is to make themselves obsolete, and whether this is an achievable goal. Incorporating works from scholars, humanitarian professionals, organizations, and media outlets through a research based approach, this thesis explores the complex factors contributing to the changing nature of humanitarianism. Politicization, growth of the sector, increase in the occurrence of disasters and conflicts, influence of donor states and coordination with other international sectors have all influenced the ways in which humanitarians work. The Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus has been created, along with new policies in an effort to keep up with the increasingly complex and interconnected world. As the sector continues to shift and evolve, humanitarianism has changed, straying further away from the foundational principles and ethos the sector was founded upon. Change is inevitable however, and as the humanitarian world changes, humanitarianism as it has traditionally been known becomes obsolete, and a new kind takes its place.

Subject Area

International Relations|Climate Change|Political science

Recommended Citation

de Carbonnel, Camille Elisabeth, "The Dynamic Humanitarian: Has Traditional Humanitarianism Become Obsolete?" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30489139.