International Humanitarian Communications

Communication is a critical component in human development. People communicate through a variety of methods including media and technology, which influences culture, relationships, and the transmission of messages. Global communications is a field that continues to evolve in modern society. Even though global communications is generally beneficial, adverse aspects of international communication exist and can create unfavorable situations for society.

Impact of Global Communications

International communications has had a significant effect on civilization and shaping humanitarianism. Defined as the “the practice of caring for distant strangers” (Juergensmeyer, 2012, p. 829), humanitarianism in context of communications is considered an ethical convention. Challenging inequality including the social poverty, racism, sexism, and classism have been significantly impacted through global communications. Through international humanitarian communications, people can connect to share ideas, confront political leadership, and demand rights and opportunity that have otherwise been closed or difficult to obtain.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states, “Information, knowledge and participatory processes of social change are essential if women and men are to respond to both the opportunities and the major challenges of the coming century” (Communication in a changing world, n.d. para. 4). Communication is both a participatory process and procedure open every person, which is a strong declaration that signifies the influence communication has on humanitarianism. Although international communications in a humanitarian context has historically been beneficial, addressing conflict caused by international communication is necessary for understanding how humanitarian communication can be unhelpful.

International Communications as a Motivator for Global Good

Baran (2014) indicates that the archetypical global village facilitates an intentional environment of a common culture, with benefits of an international economy. The obvious motivations for international communications are providing help, whether the help is in the form of financial assistance, shared ideas in the cultural or political spectrums, or provisions of resources. These concepts are requisite to creating a positive global village because sharing, distributing, and contributing are paramount to constructive international communications. Multiple methods of communication exist for the global good of international communications.

  • A country can reach out to world governments for humanitarian aid such as the case with kidnap of the Boko Haram school children (Abubakr and Brumfield, 2014).
  • An oppressed cultural group can blog about mistreatment and offer suggestions for changing views found in the repeatedly shared article Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (McIntosh, 1990).
  • A single person in financial need can receive community assistance as with the case of Sureshbhai Patel who experienced police brutality and needs medical treatment (Sureshbhai Patel’s Recovery Fund, 2015).

Clear communication generates positive results between recipients. These results are largely representative of humankind’s desire to help those who are disadvantaged. However, a more sinister effect of international communications exists, which has a negative impact on society.

Use of International Communications for Evil

Although society prefers the benefits of international communications, addressing the negative aspects of international communication is necessary for creating change and facilitating media awareness. A modern problem of international communication is the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extremist terrorist group operating in the Middle East. ISIS uses international communications methods in an attempt to terrorize world governments. ISIS is not representative of Islam but uses international communications to promote terror and extremism, which causes confusion for people unfamiliar with the Middle East.

Exploiting loopholes for gain is a condition of human nature. The primary method ISIS uses to distribute information and recruit members is through the Internet (Corbett, 2014). ISIS uses the loophole of freedom on the Internet to conceive a world of intense fear and intimidation. However, an interesting aspect regarding this situation is that worldwide, people are criticizing the actions of ISIS and working together to develop a solution. The United Nations has identified several human rights including

  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, n.d., p. 1).
  • No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, n.d., p. 1).
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, n.d., p. 1).
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, n.d., p. 1).

The conditions outlined by the United Nations coupled with the global contributions of engaging against ISIS indicate that although communication can be used for evil, the common mindset is that international communications is used for good.

Final Thoughts

International communications in humanitarian context holds implications that can be both negative and positive. Critical analysis of these polarizations is necessary for understanding the meaning of humanitarianism in communications. Although communication can be used for instances of evil the accepted discourse is that global communications is used for the good of humankind.


Abubakr, A., & Brumfield, B, (2014, December), Officials: Boko Haram kidnaps 185 women and children, kills 32 people. CNN. Retrieved from

Baran, S. J., (2015), Introduction to Mass Communication Media Literacy and Culture. (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Communication in a changing world. (n.d.), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from

Corbett, J., (2014, September), The Islamic State: Who Is ISIS? An Open Source Investigation.   Centre for Research on Globalization. Retrieved from

Juergensmeyer, M., & Anheier, H. K. (2012). Encyclopedia of Global Studies. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved from,ip,url,cpid&custid=shapiro&db=e000xna&AN=467136&site=ehost-live&ebv=EB&ppid=pp_829

McIntosh, P. (1990). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. Independent School, 49(2), 31–35. Retrieved from

Sureshbhai Patel’s Recovery Fund. (2015, February). GoFundMe. Retrieved from

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (n.d.), United Nations. Retrieved from


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