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Between Samaritans and StatesThe Political Ethics of Humanitarian INGOs$
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Jennifer Rubenstein

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199684106

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199684106.001.0001

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The Problem of Spattered Hands

The Problem of Spattered Hands

(p.87) 4 The Problem of Spattered Hands
Between Samaritans and States

Jennifer C. Rubenstein

Oxford University Press

Drawing on the example of the Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Chapter 4 examines “the problem of spattered hands”: how should INGOs respond when their well-intended and (in some ways) beneficial actions are partially redeployed by third parties for unjust purposes? This chapter examines several possible approaches to conceptualizing this predicament: the principle of do no harm, the concept of complicity, the doctrine of double effect, and the theory of dirty hands. It argues that all four approaches have serious limitations. It proposes and defends a superior approach for guiding humanitarian INGOs before, during, and after these sorts of situations: the idea that these situations are problems of spattered hands, and that humanitarian INGOs sometimes have a responsibility to grudgingly allow their hands to be spattered.

Keywords:   Rwanda, refugee, do no harm, complicity, doctrine of double effect, dirty hands, spattered hands, services, democratic, agency, genocide

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