Over the past year, the number of people requiring humanitarian aid has continued to rise amidst global pandemics, wars and natural disasters. According to the United Nations’ 2023 Global Humanitarian Overview, the estimated number of people in need of humanitarian aid this year will reach 339 million, exceeding the total population of the United States. While everyone breathes collective sighs of relief at the subsiding COVID-19 pandemic, humanitarian disasters continue to strike around the world. On February 6, 2023, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred at the border of Turkey and Syria, resulting in more than 40,000 deaths and 120,000 injuries. In addition, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine that began in February 2022 shows no signs of ending, and over 100 other armed conflicts rage on across the globe. All told, these events caused the humanitarian aid needed in 2023 to reach a record high of $51.5 billion. Still, despite the severity of these other events, the pandemic is notable for not only incurring significant increases in humanitarian funding requirements but also for changing the way such aid is delivered. Especially during the pandemic, many international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) were unable to enter recipient countries due to border closures. Instead, they relied on local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for assistance. In this issue, we analyze and interpret these developments as we adopt the theme of “Trends in Humanitarian Aid in 2023.” We build on work published in the United Nations’ 2023 Global Humanitarian Overview by inviting experts and scholars in relevant fields to discuss related topics. They begin by examining the political logic of international humanitarian aid and then later explore the links between a country’s aid contributions and foreign policy from the perspective of national interests. Then, echoing current global trends, they examine the historical context and methodology of Poland’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The experts subsequently consider the importance of local NGOs in the post-pandemic era as well as the impact of their changing roles on the execution of global humanitarian aid. Finally, the discussion returns to Taiwan, exploring how the country can carry out aid projects while expanding connections with the international community, all while adapting to 2023’s humanitarian aid trends.
For this issue’s special report, the topic is “Taiwan’s opportunities and challenges when facing global humanitarian aid crises and trends.” We interviewed the Manager of the International Programs Group of World Vision Taiwan, James Wu; the Secretary-General of Good Neighbors Taiwan, Kuo- Jeng Yang; and Deputy Secretary-General of TaiwanICDF, Stephen J. H. Lee, giving them a platform to share their perspectives on humanitarian aid trends for 2023 and the prospects for humanitarian aid this year, from the view of INGOs and official aid agencies.
According to statistics from the United Nations, the global demand for humanitarian funding has been steadily increasing. However, due to the international political calculations of various countries, some worthy causes do not receive adequate assistance. This goes against the spirit of the United Nations’ sustainable development goal of “leaving no one behind.” Therefore, we hope that, through this issue, we can lead readers to reflect on how they prioritize international humanitarian aid and national interests. Furthermore, we hope they can see how Taiwan actively and effectively contributes to international humanitarian aid goals in the post-pandemic era, even amid changing global conditions.
With the increase of the global youth population, the voices of young people cannot be ignored. Especially since nearly 90% of young people live in developing countries or regions, it is even more necessary to think about how to use international development assistance to not only assist them in becoming financially independent, but also provide opportunities for them to acquire knowledge and skills through education. Helping youths living in developing countries to change their lives is what the international community is concerned about. Therefore, this issue is themed “International Aid Under the Changes of the Young Generation”, inviting experts and scholars in related fields to start by analyzing the “2030 Youth Strategy” presented by the United Nations, gradually exploring why young people have begun to pay attention to international issues, and what the role that youth can play in the field of international aid, and then putting forward relevant policy suggestions.
The Political Logic of International Humanitarian Aid : Starting from the United Nations’ Global Humanitarian Overview 2023
(Jason M. Kuo, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University)
The multilateral international humanitarian aid plan proposed in the United Nations’ Global Humanitarian Overview 2023 is authoritative in terms of legal procedures and organizational performance, and it is therefore a useful reference for governments around the world as they formulate their foreign humanitarian aid policies. However, due to the agenda-setting nature of multilateral international humanitarian aid, the overview inherits the political logic of major donor countries, including their political and economic interests. If our country blindly follows international humanitarian aid projects planned by the United Nations every year, we may lose the ability to actively shape the international humanitarian agenda or fall into a situation of passive cooperation with the national interests of major donor countries. Instead, our country should draw on its past bilateral aid experiences in Haiti, Nepal and the Philippines, analyzing the needs of our foreign policy and the political and economic interests of domestic and foreign stakeholders on a case-by-case basis. Then, we may continue to promote our country’s foreign humanitarian aid work through bilateral approaches and the incorporation of civil cooperation. This will allow the world to see our country as an agenda-setter for international humanitarian aid.
Disappearing Borders: Poland’s Assistance to Ukraine in the Russo-Ukrainian War
(Chin-mo Cheng, Director at the Department of Diplomacy and International Relations, Tamkang University)
On February 24, 2022, Russia entered Ukraine and launched the Russo-Ukrainian War, shocking the world. Poland soon became a focus of attention for providing substantial assistance to Ukraine. This article analyzes the relationship between Poland and Ukraine from a historical perspective, sorting out the background factors behind Poland’s strong assistance to Ukraine during this war. In the future, Poland and Ukraine will continue working together to promote shared economic development, highlighting the special friendship between these two countries.
International Humanitarian Aid Cooperation in the Post-Pandemic Era:The Transitioning Role of Local NGOs in Recipient Countries
(Ping-Hsien Lin, Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Work, Tunghai University ; Fu-Min Liao, Adjunct Lecturer at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Providence University)
The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 in 2019 resulted in a certain degree of de-globalization, and the resulting structural shift forced a transformation in the roles and actions of the first, second, and third sectors worldwide. For example, in the field of international humanitarian aid, global actors involved in North-South cooperation are now obstructed in facing urgent situations. This article explores factors that have led to changes in the roles and operating models of the third sector in recipient countries since the pandemic’s outbreak, as well as changes to third sector positioning in the post-pandemic era within the scope of international cooperation development. By examining aspects
such as service delivery pathways, service delivery models, sector role divisions of labor, organizational management, and financial accountability structures, we discovered that local NGOs derive certain benefits from their positioning at the service delivery site following the re-territorialization process. Thus, Taiwan can take advantage of the inherent agility of these non-profit organizations as well as the Taiwanese government’s own integrated strategic planning capacity to consolidate its resources and project outward, enabling Taiwan to join other OECD countries in the international cooperation development arena through asymmetrical aid competition.
Pragmatic International Humanitarian Assistance by Taiwan:
A Case Study of the TaiwanICDF
(Ching-I Wu, Division Chief at the Humanitarian Assistance Department, TaiwanICDF; Chih-Cheng, Hung, Assistant Specialist at the Humanitarian Assistance Department, TaiwanICDF; Chia-Hua Shih, Assistant Specialist at the Humanitarian Assistance Department, TaiwanICDF)
This article provides an overview of the evolution of international humanitarian assistance and the practices of the Taiwanese government and civil society in utilizing their strengths and experiences to promote said assistance. In addition, this article focuses on the evolution and development of the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) in implementing international humanitarian assistance. As the official aid organization of the Taiwanese government, the TaiwanICDF has recently focused on aiding post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, strengthening collaboration with international non-governmental organizations, and increasing direct personnel participation in international humanitarian assistance. It has also continuously improved its assistance methods in order
to reflect international standards and enhance the effectiveness of its humanitarian assistance programs.