'With the best will in the world... '?: Humanitarianism, non-state actors and the pursuit of 'purposes beyond ourselves'

Jacinta O'Hagan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Debates about liberal internationalism in general and 'purposes beyond ourselves' in particular have focused largely on the role of states. Such a focus risks limiting our potential to achieve solidarist goals by tying us to the ontological and ethical concerns of the state. This article argues that a more expansive conception of agency, which includes non-state actors (NSAs), reflects more accurately the complexity of agency and interests within liberal internationalism. Using the example of humanitarianism, it argues that humanitarian NSAs demonstrate that important additional avenues exist for the pursuit of solidarism within the liberal international order. At the same time, these actors do not totally evade the dilemmas of solidarism faced by states, nor the tensions that permeate liberal internationalism and constrain the pursuit of purposes beyond ourselves. Humanitarian NSAs are embedded in complex relationships with states and are implicated in structures of power and interest within the liberal international order. These present them with their own dilemmas of solidarism and, despite their best intentions, can compromise their pursuit of 'purposes beyond ourselves'.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)118-137
    JournalInternational Politics: a journal of transnational issues and global problems
    Volume50
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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