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Disaster, displacement and justice: Powers and Faden's theory of social justice and the obligations of non-governmental organizations' towards Internally Displaced Persons
Bioethica Forum (2014)
  • Caroline Clarinval
  • Matthew R Hunt, McGill University
Abstract

Disasters have major impacts on populations, disrupting people’s lives and exposing them to harm and, potentially, injustice. A range of actors, including national and international non-governmental organizations, provide assistance to victims of disasters. Initial disaster relief efforts primarily focus on saving lives. As the response progresses, efforts to promote recovery for individuals and communities affected by disaster become increasingly important. Given the heightened vulnerability and widespread needs of populations affected by disaster, choices must be made regarding which services and programs will be prioritized at each stage of the response. In consequence, questions of equity and justice arise related to these decisions, particularly as the acute crisis abates and a range of assistance programs aimed at promoting recovery is considered. The nature of these justice considerations and their implications for disaster response programs has received limited discussion in the literature. In this paper, we consider the potential contribution of Powers and Faden’s theory of Social Justice for clarifying justice-based responsibilities of non governmental organizations towards populations displaced within their own country by a disaster, and contrast it with the Basic Needs Approach widely used by humanitarian organizations. According to Powers and Faden, justice requires that a minimally sufficient level of well-being be secured for individuals who are systematically disadvantaged. We argue that this conception of social justice can help direct attention to diverse dimensions of well-being, and orient program planning in situations where non governmental organizations work with internally displaced populations post the acute crisis of the disaster response.

Keywords
  • ethics,
  • humanitarian action,
  • internally displaced persons,
  • social justice
Publication Date
2014
Citation Information
Caroline Clarinval and Matthew R Hunt. "Disaster, displacement and justice: Powers and Faden's theory of social justice and the obligations of non-governmental organizations' towards Internally Displaced Persons" Bioethica Forum Vol. 7 Iss. 2 (2014)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/matthew_hunt/46/