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About Arthur C. Helton

Arthur C. Helton was a Senior Fellow for Refugee Studies and Preventive Action, Council on Foreign Relations. He died following a bombing in Baghdad where he was doing research.

Articles by Arthur C. Helton

This week’s front page editor

“Francesc”

Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

People movement: the need for a World Migration Organisation

The world needs a global migration organisation to regulate and supervise the movement of peoples. [Reposted from openDemocracy, May 2003]

Destination Baghdad

This column was written by Arthur Helton and Gil Loescher on the eve of their research and evaluation visit to Iraq, from where they were to report for openDemocracy on the challenges of reconstruction facing Iraq’s new governors. On 19 August, they were victims of the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. Arthur Helton was killed and Gil Loescher severely injured in the blast.

NGOs and governments in a new humanitarian landscape

Are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at risk of becoming a tool of governments’ foreign policies? The US’s increasing engagement in ‘small wars’ and nation-building is challenging NGOs’ sense of their core mission and degree of independence. A decisive period is opening where the very meaning of humanitarian action is being explored and redefined.

Food and the politics of humanitarian access in Iraq

Before the Iraq war, around 60% of the country’s people depended on the World Food Programme. The UN and other agencies need to make huge and sustained efforts to meet their needs in the post-conflict situation. Food assistance, long the subject of high politics in Iraq, is likely to remain a key area of dispute as nation-building evolves.

People movement: the need for a World Migration Organisation

The world urgently needs effective, generous and humane ways of managing the vast movements of people across borders that is a defining feature of globalisation. A World Migration Organisation would be a crucial step in the process.

Iraq: lurching toward recovery

The severe and long-standing humanitarian crises in Iraq are reinforced by the messy fallout of a devastating war. UN agencies, governments, and NGOs are locked in intense arguments about who should be responsible for rebuilding the country and salving its people’s wounds. Meanwhile, reality bites.

Internally displaced persons in Iraq: a potential crisis?

The aftermath of war in Iraq is likely to intensify the problem of internal displacement that has already affected thousands of Kurds in the north and Shi’a and Marsh Arabs in the south. Two relatively untested agencies – the UN Office for Project Services and the International Organisation for Migration – will be responsible for aiding the huge flows of displaced people expected. Can they cope? International experts have grave doubts.

Jordan: coping with a war next door

Jordan, already deeply preoccupied by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is acutely affected by the impact of war on its Iraqi neighbour. With a common border and 380,000 Iraqis living there, the country has made extensive humanitarian preparations with virtually no consultation from the US. Jordan’s UN ambassador, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein, talks to Arthur Helton about the challenges that will follow war.

Rebuilding Iraq - London sees it differently from Washington

The joint US-British military operation in Iraq involves not only the integration of two separate force structures but also the coordination of two different approaches to humanitarian assistance and recovery operations. In an interview with Peter Troy, Humanitarian Programmes Manager at the UK’s Department for International Development, Gil Loescher explores the contrasts in the two countries’ approaches.

Iran: preparing for a refugee crisis

The war in Iraq faces its Iranian neighbour with the prospect of hosting another wave of refugees. How will the country cope? Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Javad Zarif, talks to Arthur Helton about how past experience informs current humanitarian planning on the ground.

Turkey prepares for a refugee influx from Iraq

Twelve years ago this month some 2 million Iraqi Kurds, fleeing Iraqi suppression of widespread revolt in northern Iraq, escaped to the Turkish border and into Iran. They suffered terribly. How would they fare in the event of conflict this time?

After the Iraq war: planning the humanitarian response

To win a war in Iraq, the US has to win the peace. Its military forces as well as one of its leading independent humanitarian agencies, the International Rescue Committee, will have a crucial role. But can the military work with the United Nations and non-governmental organisations in ways that save lives, secure post-war order, and preserve the latter’s independence?

War in Iraq: is UNHCR up to it?

The effects of war in Iraq could include huge numbers of refugees. The under-resourced United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the world's principal refugee agency, has an emergency planning programme that crucially depends on cooperation with donor governments, non-governmental organisations, and the US military. Will the agency rise to the challenge of the imminent humanitarian crisis?

Preparing for unpleasant surprises

Improvised and ill-coordinated efforts to respond to refugee flows after they have already reached crisis proportions are the norm. Will things be different if the US attacks Iraq?

War on Iraq: an impending refugee crisis?


The impact of war and disaster on populations, and the record of international agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in dealing with them, receive too little attention in the mainstream media. Here, we focus on the humanitarian implications of a likely war on Iraq.

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