Global Health and Humanitarianism

6 h
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Week One: What is Global Health?

This introductory session will address global differences in access to healthcare, using maternal health as a key example. It will suggest factors that are significant in understanding those differences including logistics, culture, public spending and education, and the consequences on inequity in access to healthcare for individuals and communities.

Week Two: Global Health definitions, case studies and evolution

The session looks at the evolution of the terminology and practice of 'global health'. It gives an overview of two key agencies (World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) and their development, reflecting the broader development of global health concepts and praxis. Finally we examine case studies relating to the causes, communication and management of disease spread.

Week Three: Humanitarian Responses

Humanitarian crises exert great cost. The Japanese tsunami in2011 is estimated to have cost $300billion. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 probablykilled in excess of 400,000 people (mostly in Indonesia).  Civil wars have, since 1945, killed over 20million people and displaced a further 67 million, 90% of whom have beennon-combatants. Responding to such a litany of misery has increasingly takenthe form of humanitarianism, which has seen large increases in expendituresince the 1980s. In this part of the course, we will look at thevulnerabilities that underpin war and disaster in the developing world (as thehome of the great majority of these events). We will consider the phases,challenges and politics of humanitarian responses and ask why is thatresource-poor environments are so prone to such occurrences.

Week Four: Humanitarian Dilemmas 

Humanitarianism is, at its very heart, political. Itimmediately opens up profound ethical questions. This has become increasinglyapparent as aid agencies have moved away from the single-mandate approach ofthe Cold War and towards combined programmes of relief, development andpeace-building. This part of the course will trace some of the difficultiesthat this has generated. In particular, it will consider the shift from duty-basedethics to a focus on the consequences of humanitarian intervention. We willlook at two organisations' responses to two seminal crises in the 1990s -MSF France's decision to withdraw from the refugee camps on the Rwanda borderin 1994, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' refusal to testify to the International CriminalTribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 1999.

Week Five: The Right to Humanitarian Assistance

As the world becomes more interconnected as a result ofglobalisation, increased migration and technology, disasters (both natural andman-made) are no longer of local but global concern. The right to assistancefor those affected by such conflict (internal and international) and naturaldisasters are at the forefront of humanitarian action. Multiple humanitarianagencies and government bodies are heavily involved in the provision ofassistance to those in need. Yet the right to humanitarian assistance is verymuch an area of humanitarianism that is open to debate: does a right tohumanitarian assistance actually exist? In many cases the rights of theindividual in need of assistance are often compromised by broaderconcerns of national sovereignty and international politics.

Week Six: Responsibility to Protect

Moving on from the previous section where we examined theright to humanitarian assistance and the obstacles and challenges surroundingits practice, this session will explore another controversial issue withinhumanitarianism: the responsibility to protect (hereafter referred to as R2P).The principle R2P recognizes not only the need for states to protect their owncitizens from genocide and other mass atrocities, it also sets the precedentthat if such states are unable to do so, then the international community willstep in and provide the much needed protection and humanitarian assistance tothose affected. Since its adoption by UN members in 2005, the practice of R2Phas suffered from inconsistent application around the world, raising concernsover national sovereignty and the motivations of those behind R2P operations.This session will explore the concept in more depth, charting its rise from2001 as well as shedding light on some of the main challenges it faces.




Prof Tim Jacoby
Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute & The Global Development Institute

Dr Amy Hughes
Clinical Academic Lecturer in Emergency Response
Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Dr Kirsten Howarth
Lecturer in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response
Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


Tracing its roots back to 1824, the University of Manchester is home to almost 40,000 students. The University has three Nobel laureates among its current staff – more than any other British university - and a total of 25 Nobel laureates have come from our past and present students and staff. We have three main goals: to undertake world-class research; to deliver an outstanding learning and student experience; and to be socially responsible.


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