This article outlines current issues in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It explores the postulates of humanitarian interventions. The increasing level of aid is mapped against changing patterns of natural disaster and complex emergency. The humanitarian system itself is explored by sectors, and levels of global funding are analysed. Over the last 15 years, there has been a rising demand for accountability by humanitarian actors, this is especially true in chronic, long-term complex emergencies where the criteria of humanitarian assistance delivery are expanded beyond the need for immediate relief. A series of continuing tensions, particularly the dominance of a western-based model of intervention largely delivered to non-western beneficiaries are explored for an unanswered conclusion.