Arantza Peralta Lavín
Universidad de Deusto, España


Face to the increasing criticism endured by the international humanitarian sector about some enduring colonial legacy shaping this system, we see the need to advance a structural change that puts affected people in the center, engaging them in the assistance process, showing respect for their wisdoms and practices. This article performs a critical review of humanitarian action, based on critical theory and decolonial thinking, to conclude that the humanitarian aid sector is not responding to the real needs of peoples, and is harming not only the affected populations but also the humanitarian personnel themselves. The Latin American experience suggests that it is possible —and necesary— to work closely with populations in a coordinated, contextualized response, where humanitarian personnel lend support to strengthen already existing capacities and resources.

Keywords: humanitarian action, decolonization, global South, anti racism, power, Latin American, critical theory, development, humanitarism.