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This study sets out to understand the geopolitical evolution of humanitarianism and the codification of accountability in complex humanitarian crises as well as natural disasters. Using the recent earthquake in Haiti as a case study, this paper describes how new international normative mechanisms emerged in the post-Cold War period to facilitate states’ control over actors delivering humanitarian assistance. Generated through an intermixing of donor (state) and nongovernmental organization (NGO) priorities and mechanisms, these norms have subsumed humanitarian actors into a vertical structure of power and have made them complicit in enacting the foreign policy objectives of states under the guise of humanitarianism.

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Refugee Studies Centre

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