The United Nations University World Institute for Development recently
released a report on the origins of humanitarian disasters titled The Wave
of Emergencies of the Last Decade: Causes, Extent, Predictability and Response.
In a nutshell, the authors of the study found that a high correlation between
authoritarian regimes with extremely high military budgets and humanitarian
In a press briefing sponsored by the United Nations, Professor Raimo Vayrynen
of the University of Notre Dame stressed that state violence was the root cause
of humanitarian emergencies in the 1990s. Vayrynen also noted that humanitarian
emergencies appear only rarely in democracies, with Sri Lanka and Burundi offered
as exceptions to the rule (and of course in Burundi’s case it borders on Rwanda
which saw an orgy of state-sponsored violence spill over into its country).
As the brief put out by the UN summarized Vayrynen’s views, “he said that
a humanitarian crisis was usually caused by mismanagement of the political system,
by corruption or by infrastructural militarization of society.”
Or as a great sage once put it: war – what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
The researchers expect to issue a three volume summary of their findings in
the coming months.
World population to reach 8 billion by 2026. Associated Press, April 2, 1999.
U.N. negotiations on new proposals to curb population are suspended. Edith
M. Lederer, Associated Press, April 1, 1999.
Humanitarian crises largely man-made, researchers say. CNN, March 23, 1999.
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