Antonio Donini is Research Associate at the Global Migration Centre. He is also senior researcher at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, where he works on issues relating to humanitarianism and the future of humanitar­ian action. From 2002 to 2004 he was a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. He has worked for 26 years in the United Nations in research, evaluation, and humanitar­ian capacities. His last post was as Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (1999-2002). Before going to Afghani­stan he was chief of the Lessons Learned Unit at OCHA, where he managed a program of independent studies on the effectiveness of relief efforts in complex emergencies. He has published widely on evaluation, humanitarian, and UN reform issues. In 2004 he co-edited the volume Nation-Building Unraveled? Aid, Peace, and Justice in Afghanistan (Kumarian Press).  Since then he has published reports and articles exploring the implications of the crises in Afghanistan and Iraq for the future of humanitarian action as well as on humanitarian policy issues.  He coordinated the Humanitarian Agenda 2015 research project which analyzed local perceptions of humanitarian action in 13 crisis countries and authored the final HA 2015 report, The State of the Humanitarian Enterprise. He has recently finalized an edited volume on the politicization and manipulation of humanitarian action.

Selected Publications Related to Global Migration Issues


  • The Golden Fleece. Manipulation and Independence in Humanitarian Action, Sterling: Kumarian Press, 2012.
  • The Policies of Mercy: UN Coordination in Afghanistan, Mozambique and Rwanda, Occasional Paper, Providence: Watson Institute, Brown University, 1996.


  • “Introduction” and “Afghanistan: Back to the Future”; and “So what?” (co-authored with P. Walker), in: A. Donini (ed.), The Golden Fleece. Manipulation and Independence in Humanitarian Action, Sterling: Kumarian Press, 2012.
  • “Les Nations Unies entre démission et compromis”, in: P. Micheletti (ed.), Afghanistan. Gagner les coeurs et les esprits, Grenoble: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 2011.
  • “Action humanitaire, perception et pouvoir”, in: C. Abu-Sada (ed.), Dans l’oeil des autres. Perception de l’action humanitaire et de MSF, Médecins sans frontières, Lausanne: Edtions Antipodes, 2011.
  • “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Integration or Independence of Humanitarian Action” (in Afghanistan), International Review of the Red Cross, 92, No. 880, 2010.
  • “The Far Side: The Meta Functions of Humanitarianism in a Globalized World”, Disasters, 34(S2), 2010.
  • “Through a Glass Darkly: Humanitarianism and Empire”, in: N. Gunewardana & M. Shuller, Capitalizing on Catastrophe: Neoliberal Strategies in Disaster Reduction, Plymouth (UK): AltaMira Press, 2008.
  • Humanitarian Agenda 2015. Final report: The State of the Humanitarian Enterprise (report's team leader), Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, March 2008.
  • “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: Meeting Social Expectations in Post-conflict Transitions”, in: K. Guttieri & J. Piombo (eds), Interim Governments. Institutional Bridges to Peace and Democracy?, Washington DC: US Institute for Peace Press, 2007.
  • “Local Perceptions of Assistance to Afghanistan”, International Peace-Keeping, 14(1), 2007.
  • “Negotiating with the Taliban", in: L. Minear & H. Smith (eds), Humanitarian Diplomacy. Practitioners and their Craft, Tokyo/New York/Paris: United Nations University Press, 2007.
  • “Is Universality under Threat? Humanitarian Aid and Intervention in the 2000s”, in I. Richter et al (eds), Building a Transnational Society. Global Issues and Global Actors, Basingstoke (UK): Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.
  • The Humanitarian Agenda 2015: Principles, Power and Perceptions (report's team leader with L. Minear), Feinstein International Center, Medford, September 2006.
  • “L’intervento umanitario” (Humanitarian intervention) and shorter articles on “humanitarian principles” “humanitarianism” and “humanitarian emergency”, in: Enciclopedia dei diritti umani e azione umanitaria, Torino: UTET, 2007.
  • “Mapping the security Environment: Understanding the Perceptions of Local Communities, Peace Support Operations, and Assistance Agencies" (report's team leader with L. Minear), Feinstein International Center, May 2005.
  • “Principles, Politics and Pragmatism in the International Response to the Afghan Crisis”, in: A. Donini, N. Niland & K. Wermester (eds), Nation-building Unraveled? Aid, Peace and Justice in Afghanistan, Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, 2004.
  • “The Geopolitics of Mercy: Humanitarianism in the Age of Globalization”, in: R. Vayrynen & W. Nafziger (eds), The Prevention of Humanitarian Emergencies, New York: UNU-WIDER, Palgrave, 2002.
  • “Humanitarian Assistance and Peace Maintenance”, Global Governance, 2, 1998.
  • “The Bureaucracy and the Free Spirits: Stagnation and Innovation in the Relationships between the UN and NGOs”, in: T.G. Weiss & L. Gordenker (eds), NGOs, The UN and Global Governance, Boulder: L. Rienner Publishers, 1996.
  • Surfing on the Crest of the Wave Until it Crashes: Intervention and the South”, Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, 1995.
  • “Beyond Neutrality: On the Compatibility of Military Intervention and Humanitarian Assistance”, The Fletcher Forum, 19(2), 1995.
  • “The Future of Humanitarian Assistance”, Paper presented at the UNU Symposium on the UN System in the 21st Century, November 1995.


  • Rwanda - Lessons Learned, a report on the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, DHA (co-authored with N. Niland), 1994.
  • Afghanistan: Coordination in a Fragmented State, a lessons learned report prepared for DHA (co-authored with E. Dudley and R. Ockwell), 1996.