Brattberg, Erik and Rhinard, Mark (2012) The EU and US as International Actors in Disaster Relief. Bruges Political Research Paper No. 22, January 2012. [Working Paper]
The European Union and the United States both claim international leadership in disaster relief, a high profile area of public concern and a part of each side‘s broadly defined foreign policy. The 2010 Haiti earthquake tested the capacities of each side to participate actively and deliberately in international disaster relief. Although both the EU and US mobilised a response effort and undertook a range of relief activities, both received criticism from internal critics and external observers. To offer a unique comparative perspective, this paper applies the concept of 'actorness' to the EU and US in order to enhance our understanding of their respective responses. Normally applied only to the EU, the actorness concept helps to capture behavioural dynamics within a complex, multi-level system which also characterises the US. We find substantial degrees of actorness in both polities, with the EU scoring highly in contextual determinants of actorness but lower in internal factors shaping actorness. The US, normally assumed to be a complete global actor, scored well in most categories but showed a degree of incoherence related to inter-agency and inter-department relations at the federal level. These results improve our understanding of EU and US disaster relief efforts and hold promise for comparative studies of actorness.
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