The Value of Integration: A U.S. Perspective [Full Text]

Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 18.2 (Fall 2004)

September 24, 2004

The integration of humanitarian action into intervention operations, and particularly the inclusion of a military component, carries risks—but none so great as to be worth sacrificing integration on the altar of humanitarian purity. As in the case of Iraq in the first, emergency phase of an operation, humanitarian teams working closely with the combat troops can greatly reduce civilian suffering caused by shock, displacement, and lack of access to necessities of daily life. In the transition phase, as the military begins to turn over power to an independent political authority, integration of development teams is likewise important. Integration in the interest of humanity is no vice. Humanitarian exclusivity in the interest of purity is no virtue. The Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the State Department is multilateralist in its approach to humanitarian action—because it works.