Humanitarian Briefs:

Spanning the Field of Relief, Aid, and Development

                    Assistant Editors
 Britt Reiersgord and Phillip Price, 2011
  Sarah Hall and Katie Hapeman, 2012

Since 2007 the Josef Korbel School of International Studies has sponsored both certificate and concentration programs for masters degree candidates interested in careers in humanitarian assistance. Five core courses are offered, one of which is entitled “Humanitarian Assistance in Complex Emergencies.” Taught by Prof. Peter Van Arsdale, it provides students with many of the foundational premises associated with the field, as well as with numerous case-specific examples and issue-specific themes. Each student is required to research and write two briefing papers, one covering an important case, the other a critical issue.

Exemplary papers are produced each year. Beginning in 2011, some of these were edited by Prof. Van Arsdale and prepared for publication on-line, through a new project entitled HARP. In these documents, readers can find the following types of information regarding the humanitarian field:

  • Key developments in regulations and guidelines, such as the Sphere Standards and displaced-person protection standards
  • Information on NGO and IGO operations, such as those of Oxfam and the Red Cross
  • Challenges in nations where humanitarians work, such as Palestine and Sudan
  • Pertinent themes for field researchers, such as food security and camp security
  • Engaging problems for humanitarian activists, such as staff self-care and government corruption
  • Theoretical premises, such as those associated with the theory of obligation and education-in-emergencies
  • Overviews of major natural disasters, such as the 1985 Mexico City earthquake and 2005’s Hurricane Katrina
  • The status of vulnerable populations, such as refugees and impoverished children
  • Late-breaking developments, such as those involving military – civilian collaboration and innovative technologies
  • Champions of human rights and humanitarian causes, such as Aung San Suu Kyi and Fred Cuny

Throughout, the authors have emphasized “lessons learned” and “best practices.” It is only through the systematic review of this type of information that cross-cultural comparisons can be made, innovations evaluated, and humanitarian achievements fully appreciated.


Humanitarian Briefs

(Listed alphabetically by author's last name)


Sudan since the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement: Prospects for Peace, Lessons Learned - Cheri Baker

(Key Words: Oil, development, Comprehensive Peace Agreement)

The Cluster Approach: Working Towards Best Practices in Humanitarian Response – Logan Boon

(Key Words: Humanitarian Response, Cluster Approach, Best Practices, Coordination)

Best Practices and Lessons Learned: The Humanitarian Response in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka - Erin Ching

(Key Words: Sri Lanka, tsunami, humanitarian response)

Return: Right, Need or Obligation: Can Chad Reasonably Facilitate the Return of IDPs? – Oliver Cunningham

(Key Words: Chad, internally displaced persons (IDPs), MINURCAT)

Strategic Planning for Post-Earthquake Temporary Housing: Best Practices – Cara Donohue

(Key Words: post-disaster temporary housing, earthquakes, strategic planning)

Humanitarian Aid and Internally Displaced Persons: Impacts in Conflict and Post-Conflict Zones - Matthew Finger

(Key Words: IDPs, women and children, assistance gaps)

The Effects of Politics on Natural Disasters: Lessons Learned from Bangladesh – Katie Hapeman

(Key Words: Cyclones, Bangladesh, natural disaster response)

Food Security of Refugee and Displaced Women: Best Practices - Sarabeth Harrelson

(Key Words: Refugees, gender and food security, food systems)

Cash Transfer Programming: Best Practices – Sarah Hunt

(Key Words: Cash transfer programming, best practices)

Al-Shabaab and Humanitarianism in Somalia: Lessons Learned – Brittney Irby

(Key Words: Al-Shabaab, humanitarian space, Somalia, neutrality)

Hurricane Katrina: Humanitarian Obligations and Lessons Learned - Ellen Jorgenson

(Key Words: Hurricane Katrina, poverty, theory of obligation)

No Way In, No Way Out: The Humanitarian Response to the Forgotten Prisoners of Burma - Erin Kesler

(Key Words: Burma, crimes against humanity, Commission of Inquiry)

Upholding the Mandate: The Protection, Security, and Rights of Refugees - Erin Kesler

(Key Words: Refugees, protection and security, UNHCR)

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo: First Responders for Human Rights - Rachel Koepsel

(Key Words: Human rights violations, forced disappearance, women's mobilization)

Locating a Humanitarian Actor within Humanitarian Spaces: Best Practices Discerned from Frederick Cuny's Career – Iuliia Kononenko

(Key Words: Humanitarian space, humanitarian actor, armed conflict, famine, refugees)

The European Union: Humanitarian Assistance and Food Aid in Developing Nations - Lucy Meliksetian

(Key Words: Food aid, developing nations, European Union)

Civil-Military Cooperation in Humanitarian Assistance: Integrated Missions as a "Best Practice" in UN Response - Maureen Mersmann

(Key Words: Civil-Military cooperation, integration, coherence)

Staff Care and Humanitarian Aid Organizations: A Moral Obligation - Charlotte Min-Harris

(Key Words: Moral imperative, staff care, self-care)

Operation Lifeline Sudan: Challenges During Conflict and Lessons Learned - Holly Philpot

(Key Words: Humanitarian corridor, SPLA, Operation Lifeline Sudan)

Education in Emergencies: Benefits, Best Practices, and Partnerships - Phillip Price

(Key Words: Emergency education, INEE, Sphere Project)

Technology and Disaster: The Case of Haiti and the Rise of Text Message Relief Donations - Britt Reiersgord

(Key Words: Fundraising, earthquake, technology) 

The ICRC, Neutrality and Guatemala: A Case for Improving Best Practices – Stephanie Roberts

(Key Words: Guatemala, ICRC, Neutrality, Neo-Neutrality, Civil War, Peace Process)

Somalia: Pushing Humanitarianism into the Post-Pollyannaish Era, & Applying Previous Lessons Learned Today – Michael Smith

(Key Words: Somalia, United States, United Nations, Post-Pollyannaish Era, Drought, Famine, Al-Shabaab, Transitional Federal Government)




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