The international humanitarian system is faced with ever-growing challenges of sufficiency, efficiency, effectiveness and legitimacy – challenges that cannot be overcome without political will.
This political will can be influenced by a variety of factors – among them, powerful narratives emanating from governments, politicians, the media, and humanitarian organisations themselves. Understanding these narratives, how they are constructed, how they change over time and the mechanisms through which they influence policy decisions is key to making the case for humanitarian assistance.
This paper focuses on Germany as a case study country. Germany’s rise to becoming the second-largest humanitarian donor is exceptional in a humanitarian system that is plagued by the perennial challenge of sufficiency, where increasing volumes of private and institutional funding cannot keep pace with rising humanitarian needs.
How have narratives at play amongst the population, media, government and aid agencies enabled and justified the significant increase in Germany’s humanitarian assistance budget? What role is played by the intersection of the stories that actors construct and disseminate to justify humanitarian assistance, and how do they influence the political will of policymakers and decision-making processes?
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