Humanitarianism Governed: Rules, Identity, and Exclusion in Relief Work
- Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 10, Number 2, Summer 2019
- pp. 207-237
- Additional Information
This essay investigates the origins and implications of humanitarian self-regulation. It analyzes two cases: the Sphere Project and the Code of Conduct on Images and Messages. Through archival research and interviews, self-regulation is shown to emerge from a crisis of legitimacy that destabilized assumptions as to the inherent goodness of aid. But what must be done—and how? The article presents the contests—ideational and material—for position that informed regulatory debates. For aid veterans, self-regulation emerged as a vehicle to shift the very bases of humanitarian legitimacy. From charity and compassion, these initiatives have sought to enact an identity of humanitarianism as professional, regulated, and rooted in human rights. But in defining sanctioned practice, codes risk squeezing out alternative models.