18. Fiona Terry - The Paradox of Humanitarian Aid


Learning outcome

Following this exercise, students should become aware of some of the virtues, challenges and responsibilities of providing neutral humanitarian assistance in practice.


Please watch the video below and answer the following multiple choice questions.


Well-known author and long-time relief worker, Fiona Terry, has spent most of the last 20 years involved in humanitarian operations in different parts of the world including northern Iraq, Somalia, the Great Lakes region of Africa, Liberia, Sudan, Sierra Leone and Myanmar. Terry holds a Ph.D. in international relations and political science from the Australian National University. She is the author of "Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action," which won the 2006 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. Through the prism of her long experience on the ground, Terry explores the virtues, challenges and responsibilities of providing neutral humanitarian aid in her TEDxRC² talk.


Take quiz

Question 11 pts

At the beginning of her talk, Fiona Terry draws attention to a widespread, contemporary political measure that has served to hamper genuine humanitarian action in the global south. Which Political issue does she refer to?

Question 21 pts

Terry pays tribute to those humanitarian aid agencies that are able to say and prove that 100% of their aid can get to the people to whom it is intended. Which aid organisations does Terry mention in this very positive light?

Question 32 pts

Terry makes reference to two separate cases in which aid is being seen and/or used as a weapon of war. Which of the two cases from the following four does she refer to as being mere “flipsides” to one another? (Select 2 answers).

Question 41 pts

Terry alludes to a “fundamental paradox at the heart of humanitarian action”. What is the paradox that Terry alludes to?

Question 51 pts

Fiona Terry mentions one fundamental principle of humanitarian action that is, to her, of particular importance and one which, since 9/11, has been rejected by many aid organisations. Which humanitarian principle does Terry mention in this regard?

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