Principles of Humanitarian Assistance That Canada Should Adhere

Canada has a developed economy, belonging to a group of countries with high economic characteristics. The level of development largely determines the degree of its participation in international assistance. The history of Canada’s international aid spans more than 70 years and currently represents an essential and integral element of the country’s global economic and political activities (Campbell-Miller, 2018). Canada is attentive to implementing commitments related to international assistance and accepted in international forums. These include the 2001 Millennium Development Goals, the 2005 Paris Declaration, the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action, and the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (Campbell-Miller, 2018). In its policy, Canadian international aid is based on the approaches and values declared in the country – multiculturalism, gender equality, human rights, tolerance, and openness.

Despite the ongoing improvements, there were still many problematic issues in the Canadian aid system. It was pointed out that bureaucracy, red tape, frequent change of priorities, and technical problems over strategic decisions were prevalent. There was an increase in the number of Canadian International Development Agency employees, and efficiency remained low (Campbell-Miller, 2018). In the scientific community, proposals were formulated to rethink approaches to assistance and increase its effectiveness.

The administrative response to the accumulated problems was the reorganization of the assistance system. In July 2013, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency was merged into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (Campbell-Miller, 2018). In November 2015, this Ministry received an additional name – the Ministry of Global Affairs. The association proceeded from a unified approach to foreign policy, economic relations, and assistance.

Thus, it becomes evident that Canada has been providing humanitarian assistance to countries in need for many years. In order for the humanitarian aid mechanism to work correctly, there are principles of humanitarian aid that Canada should follow. Firstly, it is the principle of humanity, which implies the independence and inflexibility of the organization engaged in assisting in various kinds of demands and proposals of brutal nature (Kennedy, 2019). No less important is the principle of independence, which assumes an activity independent of military, financial, legal, and political pressure. It will be free from any restrictions and compulsions, the purpose of which will be exclusively the protection of civilians. Organizations and countries wishing to assist must provide evidence of their non-subjection to any coercion: political, economic, or religious. Also, relief operations should be independent of any of the above types of impact.

The principle of impartiality is the most crucial principle that determines assistance in the complete absence of discrimination. By impartiality, it should be understood that there is no place for preferences in the aid provision; it should be distributed equally between the parties (Kennedy, 2019). The essence of the principle consists of two complementary elements:

  • Priority in receiving assistance, especially medical care, is given to those who need it most.
  • It is necessary to distribute aid and treat the population humanely, without racial, religious, or political discrimination (Kennedy, 2019).

The basic principle of neutrality states that organizations should not take a direct part in conflicts and take the side of one belligerent. This concept is closely related to international relations, and some states used it to maintain a neutral position in conflicts and create alliances. Thus, Canada, providing humanitarian assistance worldwide, must adhere to the basic principles of humanitarian aid. The humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence offer an everyday basis for all humanitarian activities.


Campbell-Miller, J. (2018). From disaster to development?: The role of the Second World War in shaping Canadian humanitarian aid. International Journal, 73(4), 609-622. Web.

Kennedy, D. (2019). Beyond Good Intentions: The Principles and Politics of Humanitarian Assistance.

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