Author profile: Michael Aaronson

Professor Sir Michael Aaronson was Director General (chief executive) of Save the Children UK from 1995-2005, and from 1988-1995 was the charity’s Overseas Director. He first joined Save the Children in 1969, spending two years as a relief worker in Nigeria after reading philosophy and psychology at St John’s College, Oxford. Between 1972 and 1988 he held various posts in the UK Diplomatic Service, serving in London, Paris, Lagos, and Rangoon. He is a founder member, and from 2001-2008 was Chair of the Board, of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based private foundation working to improve the international response to conflict, in particular through independent mediation. Since January 2004 he has been a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford. In September 2008 he was appointed an Honorary Visiting Professor and in May 2011 a Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Surrey, where he is also Co-Director of cii – the Centre for International Intervention. He is a Senior Adviser to NATO, working on the political/military aspects of NATO transformation, and is an occasional lecturer at the UK Defence Academy on civil/military collaboration in conflict situations.

Syria and the Crisis of Humanitarian Intervention

Michael Aaronson • Feb 11 2014 • Articles
The human suffering in the Syrian crisis since February 2011 is, above all, a tragedy for the Syrian people, but also demonstrably a crisis of international intervention.

“Killer Robots”: Double Standards? Blind Faith?

Michael Aaronson • Jun 7 2013 • Articles
It is strange that we vest in a piece of machinery the moral blame that belongs to humans, and alarming that faith in technology and the power of numbers is leading us down a dangerous path.

“The Trouble With Aid”

Michael Aaronson • Dec 17 2012 • Articles
A recent BBC documentary tackled the question "does humanitarian aid sometimes do more harm than good?" but missed an important opportunity by failing to ask whether we expect too much of aid in the first place.

What is the United Nations For?

Michael Aaronson • Nov 27 2012 • Articles
The Civil War in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009. To date there have been no international prosecutions for the crimes that occurred. That is the gravest failure highlighted by recent disclosures.

Hitting the Target?

Michael Aaronson • Jul 17 2012 • Articles
The only thing that is precise about drone strikes is the machine that delivers them. We should be realistic about how much we can programme imprecision out of our lives - and more modest about the true nature of precision strikes.

Has Kofi Annan Failed in Syria?

Michael Aaronson • May 30 2012 • Articles
One can see why some would argue that the Annan plan has failed. However, it is important to retain a realistic perspective about how much a third-party mediator can hope to achieve given the circumstances.

Rethinking International Intervention

Michael Aaronson • Mar 19 2012 • Articles
Less coercive forms of intervention have been relatively neglected by politicians and academics. The case of Syria clearly demonstrates the pitfalls of this approach.

Was the International Intervention in Libya a Success?

Michael Aaronson • Oct 31 2011 • Articles
The UN-mandated intervention in Libya is now officially at an end. Perhaps only time will tell whether Libya turns out to have been a great case of international intervention or something rather less.

Why “Humanitarian Intervention” in Libya is not Humanitarian

Michael Aaronson • Apr 14 2011 • Articles
Why does my heart sink when I hear the current UN-mandated action in Libya described as "humanitarian intervention"? After all, over the last 20 years the term has acquired currency -- not only among Western politicians but also academics -- as a description of coercive, usually military, intervention ostensibly for humanitarian purposes.

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