When Helping Hurts: Ethical and Political Pitfalls of Humanitarianism

When Helping Hurts: Ethical and Political Pitfalls of Humanitarianism

Mauro De Lorenzo

4.15.2007

Mauro De Lorenzo

Mauro De Lorenzo is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington D.C., where he studies issues in developing countries and humanitarianism. He has done research on humanitarian efforts in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and the Congo. A Rhodes Scholar, De Lorenzo is one of the brightest conservative thinkers in foreign and defense policy today.

Mauro De Lorenzo, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses the pitfalls of humanitarianism in a public address at the Clinton School. Drawing from research he’s done throughout Africa on development efforts there, De Lorenzo warns against the dangers that humanitarian efforts can face in developing countries. De Lorenzo contends that “helping can hurt” when good intentions are implemented carelessly. He encourages the audience and aspiring public servants to “closely scrutinize” their motives for helping others as those motives can sometimes be selfish. Humanitarian efforts can “destroy accountability,” De Lorenzo says, and end up causing damage to those who are in need.