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Humanitarianism is a popular research paper topic for philosophy or political science courses. Sociology classes also look at the concept of humanitarianism. It quite likely that at some point, every student will have to write a research paper on humanitarianism for collegiate level credit. Paper Masters recommends that you look at humanitarianism according to how we define it within the context outlined here.

Humanitarianism is, at its most basic level, the ethical system that encompasses the following three elements:

  1. Human Kindness
  2. Sympathy
  3. Compassion

It is the acceptance of all human beings, regardless of race, sex, class or belief system, and the attempt to relieve human suffering where it can be found.

Humanitarianism and Enlightenment

HumanitarianismHumanitarianism, as a concept, emerged out of the Enlightenment notion of reforming society. When rationalist ideas were applied to the religious concepts of Puritanism, the concept that each human being had moral significance and deserved respect was born. Not only religious tolerance, but social movements that sought to banish practices such as torture and slavery sprang out of the push towards humanitarianism.

One of the largest historical humanitarian movements was the abolition of slavery. The first group to begin agitating for its eradication was the Quakers, who began the slow process by which slavery was abolished in Great Britain by the beginning of the 19th century. Other humanitarian efforts included pushed to alleviate the notorious conditions of factory workers in early industrial plants and humane treatment of prisoners.

Humanitarianism Efforts

Today, many humanitarian efforts are geared towards assisting people after large disasters, providing food, water and medicine following massive catastrophes such as the Kobe Earthquake and hurricane Katrina. The International Red Cross was the first major humanitarian organization, founded in 1863.

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