Humanitarian Action in Situations other than War

The past two decades have seen both a decline in warfare and an increase in state and city fragility resulting from other forms of political and criminal violence. In response, the humanitarian sector has shifted to what agencies such as the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) describe as "other situations of violence." International aid agencies are increasingly involved in these new sites of relief, including cities experiencing intense organized violence, notably Rio de Janeiro, Medellin, Port-au-Prince, and Ciudad Juarez. Agencies are finding that violence in urban settings generates new challenges that may affect avowed principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence, prompting a deeper examination of the intended and unintended impacts of their interventions.

This grant will allow a team of researchers at the International Relations Institute of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and partners in Colombia, Haiti and Mexico to critically assess the dynamics of urban violence in selected cities. The team will also examine the ways in which aid agencies are adapting their practices, and the wider implications for humanitarian action in non-war zones. Through interviews, surveys, and focus groups, the humanitarian action in situations other than war (HASOW) project will engage with state and community actors in violence-affected neighborhoods to obtain an understanding of how these new humanitarian landscapes are affecting state-society dynamics and citizen security.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

End Date

Monday, September 1, 2014


36 months

IDRC Officer

Gottsbacher, Markus

Total funding

CA$ 505,000


Brazil, South America, Colombia, Haiti, North and Central America, Mexico


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Dr. Paulo Esteves

Project Leader

Dr. Robert Muggah


Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro

Institution Country


Institution Website