Recent decades have seen considerable expansion in the role of military actors in the international humanitarian landscape. However, as Josiah Kaplan and Evan Easton-Calabria write in the April issue of Humanitarian Exchange, “despite growing acknowledgment by humanitarians of the need to search ‘outside’ the traditional humanitarian community for new products, processes and innovations, very little systematic research has examined militaries as a reference point for informing humanitarian innovation.” This may not be surprising given the complex and often fractious nature of civil–military relations across the humanitarian community, but it presents a major gap in understanding on the risks and lesson-learning opportunities that military actors may provide to humanitarian innovation.
Kaplan and Easton-Calabria examine military actors as “a serious subject of study and debate within the humanitarian innovation discourse”. In this article, they draw on research conducted at the Humanitarian Innovation Project (based at the Refugee Studies Centre) and outline three areas of exploration. “Taken together”, they write, “this work suggests the need for better understanding of both the opportunities and hazards that military actors pose to the humanitarian innovation agenda.”
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