The call for localising humanitarian action has gained momentum. But what precisely is meant by ‘local’ – and which challenges do humanitarian actors face? In her newest paper CHA Fellow Dr Kristina Roepstorff argues that a better understanding of the interface between localisation and shrinking humanitarian civic space is urgently needed – for the implementation of localisation.
Local actors are increasingly considered principal agents in responses to humanitarian crises. Since the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016, the
call for localising humanitarian action has gained significant momentum in
the humanitarian sector. Though the label ‘local’ may refer to a variety of
actors, it is civil society organisations that are most often key in orchestrating
local responses. However it is increasingly clear that these actors are now
facing an increasing curtailment of their space for action. While debate on
localisation is vibrant, it has so far hardly linked questions of how to enhance
localisation and empower local actors to the issue of shrinking humanitarian
space in general, and the shrinking civic space in particular. This paper argues
that a better understanding of the interface between localisation and shrinking
humanitarian civic space is urgently needed for a meaningful discourse
on, and implementation of, localisation. If localisation is to be taken seriously,
the humanitarian sector and international partner organisations need to develop
novel ways to protect not only the humanitarian space generally, but
also defend the humanitarian civic space particularly.
Kristina Roepstorff is a Fellow at the Centre for Humanitarian Action (CHA). She is currently working on her habilitation on “Local Humanitarian Action in Forced Migration Contexts” at the Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg.