ICRCs mandate is to reach out to all suffering individuals who are in need because of armed conflict and disaster, to “everyone, everywhere” who is in need. A university clinic in South Sudan.
Photo: ICRC/Erika Tovar


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Lately, the nexus policy approach has resurfaced among global policy-makers seeking a convenient combination of humanitarian action, development and peace. Our author gives an account of the different nexus approaches and trends over the last few decades and shows where their restrictions are, seen from a humanitarian angle.

Today, humanitarian policy is much taken up with an old Latin word which is to be found all over UN resolutions and policy documents. The word is “nexus”, and it means to bind together like strands in a rope, or a meeting point at which several things join up like a junction of different roads. Nexus policy is the new meta-policy in the socio-economic policy of the United Nations, several western governments and the many international organisations and humanitarian and development NGOs who take their money. A nexus strategy deliberately sets out to find common ground in three important institutional goals which have typically been separated into three different disciplines, professions and bureaucracies. These three policy goals are peace, development and humanitarian action, which when woven together embody the “triple nexus” that is the latest attempt to find effective policy synthesis and operational synergy in pursuit of these three global public goods.

Three overlapping fields of global policy

Since the creation of the UN and its revitalised international policy in 1945, these three fields of international action have been recognised as fundamentally important and closely linked areas of common purpose but also operationally distinct in their applied ethics and their professional expertise.

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