Document Type

Graduate Syllabus


Spring 2010



Course Number

DIPL 6129

Course Description

The term "humanitarian crisis" is understood to mean any situation in which there is an exceptional and widespread threat to human life, health or subsistence. In such humanitarian crisis people are killed, or suffer from violence, displacement, hunger and disease.

With the increase in intrastate conflict, the growth of international civil society, the increased recognition of human rights, and the growing appreciation of global interconnectivity and the responsibility of governments to their citizens, states are facing a pressure to protect the civilians in countries other than their own.

At the 2005 World Summit, the world's leaders committed themselves to the "responsibility to protect", recognizing both that all states have a responsibility to protect their citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and that the United Nations should help states to discharge this responsibility using either peaceful means or enforcement action.

This course Investigates the causes, global responses to, and prevention of complex humanitarian emergencies. Beginning with the fundamental problem of defining what qualifies as a humanitarian crisis, the course further examines significant cases searching for factors to account for successful and unsuccessful international engagement.