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Journal Information

  • ISSN: 2515-6411 (Online)
  • eISSN: 121212121212
  • Keywords: Keyword, Keyword, Keyword, Keyword, Keyword, Keyword
  • First Issue: 12th January 2018
  • Frequency: Triannual


The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs is an exciting, new open access journal hosted jointly by The Humanitarian Affairs Team at Save the Children UK, and Centre de Réflexion sur l’Action et les Savoirs Humanitaires MSF (Paris) and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester. It will contribute to current thinking around humanitarian governance, policy and practice with academic rigour and political courage. The journal will challenge contributors and readers to think critically about humanitarian issues that are often approached from reductionist assumptions about what experience and evidence mean. It will cover contemporary, historical, methodological and applied subject matters and will bring together studies, debates and literature reviews. The journal will engage with these through diverse online content, including peer reviewed articles, expert interviews, policy analyses, literature reviews and ‘spotlight’ features.

Our rationale can be summed up as follows: the sector is growing and is facing severe ethical and practical challenges. The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs will provide a space for serious and inter-disciplinary academic and practitioner exchanges on pressing issues of international interest.

The journal aims to be a home and platform for leading thinkers on humanitarian affairs, a place where ideas are floated, controversies are aired and new research is published and scrutinised. Areas in which submissions will be considered include humanitarian financing, migrations and responses, the history of humanitarian aid, failed humanitarian interventions, media representations of humanitarianism, the changing landscape of humanitarianism, the response of states to foreign interventions and critical debates on concepts such as resilience or security.

Editorial Details

Fernando Espada, Save the Children

Juliano Fiori, Save the Children

Tanja Müller, University of Manchester

Michaël Neuman, MSF

Róisín Read, University of Manchester

Isabelle Schläpfer, University of Manchester

Gemma Sou, University of Manchester

Bertrand Taithe, University of Manchester

Managing Editor

Isabelle Schläpfer, Humanitarian and Conflict Institute, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL

Email: [email protected]

Advisory Board

Sharon Abramowitz, The State University of New Jersey

Heba Aly, The New Humanitarian

Urvashi Aneja, Jindal School of International Affairs

Laetitia Atlani Duault, IRD – Paris University / FMSH / Columbia University

John Borton, HPG, Overseas Development Institute

Jeff Crisp, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, and Chatham House

Samir Elhawary, OCHA

Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, University of College London

Dorothea Hilhorst, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Shani Orgad, London School of Economics and Political Science

David Rieff, non-fiction writer and journalist

Submission Info

The editors encourage the submission of inter-disciplinary papers that challenge and advance the growing area of Humanitarian Affairs. Details of the types of articles, including extent, themes and approach are below. Articles should be prepared according to the journal’s guidelines and authors can review the author resources area for more information on how to write and prepare their article and other MUP policies.


Online submissions are made via the JHA ScholarOne website: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jha

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs is an Open Access journal. No fee is payable by the author or their institution to submit or publish in the journal.

Types of articles

Research article

Maximum extent 7,000 words including abstract and bibliography.

Original research articles are encouraged on any aspect of humanitarianism, encompassing both theoretical and/or practice-based issues. Articles should advance knowledge about the field of humanitarianism, including articles on the broader implications of the topic as well as those focused more narrowly on specific case studies, practices or concepts. The humanitarian sector is rapidly changing and faces a range of ethical, political and practical challenges. Therefore, the editors welcome original research contributions which critically engage with how these challenges are being negotiated in theory and in practice. In turn, contributions will draw from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including, but not limited to, anthropology, cultural studies, economics, law, history, organisational studies, philosophy, politics, public health and sociology.

We particularly encourage interdisciplinary papers and those that use innovative approaches to interrogate the field and identify new areas of inquiry. Topics include, but are not restricted to, humanitarian financing, migrations and responses, the history of humanitarian aid, failed humanitarian interventions, media representations of humanitarianism, the changing landscape of humanitarianism, the response of states to foreign interventions, critical debates on concepts such as resilience, sustainability, security, etc. Manuscripts should be original contributions and should not have been published elsewhere or be under consideration for any other publication at the same time. We aim to appeal to a broad audience, so articles should be written in an accessible English and any specialist terms should be clearly explained.


Maximum extent 1,000 words including abstract and bibliography.

Op-eds should relate directly to the theme of the journal issue. Authors should concisely put forward an opinion, supported by argument and evidence that engages with existing debates or opens up new debates. Op-eds can focus on practical or theoretical questions, but preference will be given to those that speak to both practitioners and academics.

Field report and situation analysis

Maximum extent 3,500 words including abstract and bibliography.

Each issue of the journal will include two pieces reflecting on humanitarian programmes, recounting experiences of humanitarian practice, or providing analysis on a particular programme or response. These can be written as descriptive reports, analytical essays, or chronicles/diaries. Focused on experience, they should give particular attention to tensions and contradictions, innovative practices, challenges and struggles, and stories of success and failure.

Literature review

Maximum extent 4,000 words including abstract and bibliography.

Literature reviews or extended book reviews should contain the state of the art pertinent to a particular topic, present clearly to readers the challenges and debates around this topic and give indications on where to find the best sources. We expect this section of the journal to open doors and facilitate further critical engagements. Authors who wish to concentrate on a major new publication are invited to present it in relation to the wider literature. Authors who wish to concentrate on a debate and its wider literature are invited to present their argument through a clear and concise exposé if the state of the art. Submissions should normally be no longer than 4,000 words. Longer texts may be acceptable subject to discussion with the editor. Submissions will be reviewed by the editorial committee of the journal and are subject to approval.

Publication Ethics

See here for our full ethics statement.


To Subscribe to our journal, please contact our Support team.

Recommend / Reviews

There are currently no available Reviews at this time.

Abstract & Index

Traditional news media must innovate to maintain their ability to inform contemporary audiences. This research project analyzes innovative news outlets that have the potential to draw young audiences to follow global current events. On February 8, 2011, a Pew Research Center Poll found that 52 percent of Americans reported having heard little or nothing about the anti-government protests in Egypt. Egyptians had been protesting for nearly two weeks when this poll was conducted. The lack of knowledge about the protests was not a result of scarce media attention. In the United States, most mainstream TV news sources (CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC) ran headline stories on the protests by January 26, one day after the protests began. Sparked by an assignment in International Reporting J450 class, we selected 20 innovative news outlets to investigate whether they are likely to overcome the apparent disinterest of Americans, particularly the youth, in foreign news. Besides testing those news outlets for one week, we explored the coverage and financing of these outlets, and we are communicating with their editors and writers to best understand how and why they publish as they do. We will evaluate them, following a rubric, and categorize them based on their usefulness and effectiveness.

Additional Information

Programmed Themes for 2019-2020

All calls are currently live and running. They may not appear in the order that is given here.

Theme 1

Humanitarian security

leads Michael Neuman, MSF, Róisín ReadUniversity of Manchester, Fernando Espada, Save the Children

The vast literature devoted to humanitarian security remains largely the prerogative of humanitarian organisations and think-tanks that revolve around them.

They primarily focus on the issue of access (including SAVE’s “What it takes: principled pragmatism to enable access and quality humanitarian aid in insecure environments, November 2016), produce figures (Humanitarian Outcomes AWSD Reports), advertise the use of humanitarian principles (ACF’s “Humanitarian principles in conflict”).

Academic reflections in recent years have questioned humanitarian relations to risk and danger (Silke Roth, Bertrand Taithe), others have worked on the reality of security management using an ethnographical approach (Dandoy, Duffield). More recently, the “humanitarian security studies” field saw the publication of Larissa Fast’s “Aid in Danger and MSF-Crash’s “Saving Lives and Staying Alive”. Both are the result of a mix of observations of practices and reflections taking stock of social sciences academic work on risk management. Both books deliver a critic of the contemporary management of their security by humanitarian agencies.

The aim of this issue would be to continue the reflection, covering themes that have been previously unexplored or need update. It aims at covering, on the one hand, the present state of knowledge with regard to threats, and on the other hand, the “practice” of humanitarian security management.

More precisely, we are interested in:

  • Field researches attempting to portray implementation of risk management strategies by relief organizations.
  • Researches on sexual abuses of humanitarian workers.
  • Researches on the transformation of warfare and death count: what do the data tell us?

In addition, we would like to commission a literature review pertaining to risk management in the humanitarian sector, browsing academic as well as grey literature from relief agencies origin.

Theme 2:

Humanitarianism and the end of the liberal order

(Leads Juliano Fiori, Save the Children, Isabelle Schläpfer, University of Manchester)

A significant body of scholarship produced over the last two-and-a-half decades has explored the mutual dependencies between the post-Cold War liberal order and humanitarianism (Barnett, for example). If the triumphalist liberal narratives of the early 1990s were quickly discredited by wars and the course of international relations, there is no doubt that unipolarity provided a more permissive context for the expansion of the humanitarian enterprise, and humanitarian tropes and language gained prominence.

The role of humanitarian action in the pursuit of liberal peace has been studied in detail (Chandler, Duffield, etc.), but suggestions of a decline in commitment to liberal ideals have been made with increasing force and frequency in recent years (Richmond, Hopgood, etc.). The election of Donald Trump, the referendum vote in favour of Brexit, and a rise in insurgent nationalisms now seem to indicate a rupture with, if not the end of, the liberal order of the post-Cold War era, potentially threatening long-standing liberal humanitarian institutions.

This issue of the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs will focus on how this apparent alteration in the global ideological landscape relates to changes in humanitarian discourse and practice.

We are particularly interested in papers that explore: how tighter border controls, protectionism, and opposition to globalisation are affecting, and might affect, the implementation of humanitarian activities and the people they are intended to support, especially refugees; how the behaviour of states and parties to conflict is changing in relation to liberal norms and international law; the extent to which trends in public and private donorship for humanitarian activities reflect a shift away from liberal internationalism; changes in humanitarian practice, ethics, and discourse that reflect challenges to the liberal order.

Theme 3:

Innovation and the changing face of humanitarian practices & ethics

(Leads Gemma Sou, University of Manchester, Tanja Müller, University of Manchester)

Recent discussion within humanitarian affairs has centred on the so-called innovation of humanitarian practises, and the changing face of the humanitarian sector. For instance, there has been a proliferation of ‘gadgets’, ‘gizmos’ and alternative technologies. Other conversations also focus on the need to professionalize the humanitarian sector, as well as increase the role of local communities in humanitarian action. There is also great debate on the need to blur the lines between humanitarian action and a set of agendas such as development, peace, state building and military action. These ‘innovations’ are framed as progressive and potentially increasing the effectiveness of the humanitarian sector, particularly in contexts of increasingly complex crises. However, there is still a need to question the normativity of these so-called innovations, and to critically question their impacts on the humanitarian sector. In light of this background, this Special Issue seeks to explore the diversity of so-called innovative and new humanitarian practises. Some questions include: To what extent are these practises new and unprecedented phenomena within humanitarianism? Are they forging a (re)conceptualisation of humanitarian norms, ethics and principles? How are they (re)configuring the micro-politics of humanitarian practice? Are they increasing the effectiveness of humanitarian programmes? A chief consideration for contributions to the Special Issue will be originality in the form of theory and concept building, methodological innovation, novel policy perspectives and original field research and data.

Theme 4:

Gender, sexualities and humanitarian action

(leads Róisín Read, University of Manchester, Bertrand Taithe, University of Manchester)

Humanitarian actors have long embraced notions of ‘gender’ and ‘gender mainstreaming’ in their programming and policy priorities, yet, surprisingly little attention has been played to the ways in which the humanitarian sector and humanitarian aid are gendered. Gender is often seen as an operational problem and much of the humanitarian literature which deals with this is, thus, problem-solving in nature. Critical approaches to gender in the humanitarian sector are conspicuously absent, while they figure prominently in related fields such as development and peace and conflict studies. Intersecting gendered and racialized power dynamics haunt the humanitarian sector yet are rarely the explicit focus of research. Yet gender definitions and interactions between humanitarians and their ‘beneficiaries’ are at the intersection between culture, class, nationality and religion.

The gendered concept of ‘care’; militarised and romanticised representations of aid workers; and recent claims about levels of sexual harassment and discrimination in the humanitarian are just some of the topics in this area which warrant more attention and highlight the need for more reflection the gender dynamics of the sector. This special issue wishes to consider all gender concerns challenging our understanding of humanitarian action, and how notions of masculinity and femininity define the boundaries but also drive humanitarian aid.

We invite articles which address these themes, from a range of theoretical and methodological approaches. In particular, we are keen for contributors to reflect on questions such as: How are practices of humanitarianism gendered? How do different bodies experience humanitarian space? What insights/issues are made visible by feminist approaches to humanitarianism? How is humanitarianism implicated in the creation and maintenance gendered power structures? Why has sexuality been overlooked in humanitarian studies?