Latest CMI Insight exploring four crucial domains of contemporary humanitarianism

In this latest Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) publication “Humanitarianism: An overview”, NCHS Director and CMI Research Professor, Antonio De Lauri, provides an overview of four crucial areas of contemporary humanitarianism.

Here De Lauri, briefly explores the concepts of humanitarian diplomacy, education in emergencies, civil society in humanitarianism, and humanitarian borders.

The full publication can be accessed here.

New edited collection of citizen-led humanitarian initiatives at European borders just published

A new edited volume bringing together a collection of contributions focusing on citizen-led humanitarian initiatives at European borders has just been published.

This exciting volume titled ‘Citizen Humanitarianism at European Borders’ is edited by NCHS Co-Director Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (Peace Research Institute Oslo) and Elisa Pascucci (University of Helsinki).

“At a time of escalating tensions between states and NGOs engaged in migrant search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean, as well as in places where migrants have been kept in limbo, our book explores the emerging trend of citizen‑led forms of helping others at the borders of Europe”, Maria said.

​This book sets out to interrogate the shifting relationship between humanitarianism, the securitization of border and migration regimes, and citizenship. Critically examining the “do it yourself” character of refugee aid practices performed by non-professionals coming together to help in informal and spontaneous manners, the volume considers the extent to which these new humanitarian practices challenge established conceptualisations of membership, belonging, and active citizenship.

This book is key reading for advanced students and researchers of humanitarian aid, European migration and refugees, and citizen-led activism.

This volume is the result of a Research Council of Norway funded research project, ‘Humanitarianism, Borders and the Governance of Mobility: the EU and the ‘Refugee Crisis’’. You can find out more about this edited volume on the publisher’s website here.

NCHS set to contribute to world summit on frontline humanitarian negotiation

Humanitarian negotiation practitioners, scholars, policy makers and donors from across the world are set to descend on the village of Caux in Switzerland to take part in the World Summit on Frontline Humanitarian Negotiation from 28 June to 3 July.

Hosted by the Centre of Competence on Humanitarian Negotiation (CCHN), participants will gather to discuss the most challenging present-day issues related to humanitarian negotiation. The summit features a panel discussion with humanitarian leaders, peer workshops and live simulations, as well as opportunities to meet and exchange with other participants in interactive rooms and a virtual exhibit hall.

We are very pleased that this year the line-up also includes NCHS Director and Research Professor at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Antonio De Lauri, along with CMI Doctoral Researcher and contributor to the NCHS, Salla Turunen who will present their research on Humanitarian Diplomacy.

As part of their contributions, Antonio and Salla will hold three presentations on the topic ‘Between right and wrong: Humanitarian morality and necessary politics of compromise’, in the context of humanitarian diplomacy and negotiation.

As part of the joint NCHS and CMI virtual exhibition booth, Antonio and Salla have recorded an introductory video discussing their research on humanitarian diplomacy and welcoming participants to the different elements of the permanent exhibition. There will also be a range of humanitarian diplomacy related publications on offer, including popular dissemination items, policy-related publications and academic publications.

To round out, Antonio and Salla also present a podcast discussing the topic of humanitarian diplomacy and the ethics of humanitarianism, available on Spotify here.

As well the physical event in Caux, the summit will also be livestreamed on an interactive platform, making participating from anywhere in the world not only possible but also highly engaging.

There is still time to register if you would like to be involved what promises to be a very informative and engaging event. You can download a copy of the program here. For more information and to register, click here. Registrations close 24 June 2021.

Is Russia moving towards a compromise on humanitarian aid to Syria?

The United Nations Security Council is set to make a decision on the delivery of cross-border humanitarian aid to Syria by 10 July. The decision comes almost one year on from the compromised extension to Resolution 2533, which approved the delivery of aid into Syria through the Bab al-Hawa crossing for a further year.

Russia is again at the centre of contention and the primary focus of the discord is again the delivery of aid through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing into the rebel-controlled Idlib province. Many stakeholders are worried that Moscow might insist on closing the Bab al-Hawa crossing on the quasi-legalistic grounds of upholding Syria’s sovereignty and thus block a new extension of Resolution 2533.

In this latest blog for the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Middle East Centre, Research Professor Pavel Baev argues there may be good reason to now believe Russia is maneuvering towards a compromise supporting the extension of Resolution 2533.

Baev argues the context of the issue has changed for Moscow since 2020, and points to a difference in the situation in Syria, the sharp escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in April-May, and the stabilisation of the situation around the rebel-controlled Idlib province as having changed the context of the Syrian issue from Moscow’s point of view.

Read Pavel Baev’s full blog post here.

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik to present at upcoming webinar ‘politics of digital humanitarianism’

New digital technologies offer the potential to resolve many challenges that may impede humanitarian efforts. However, technologies also have a political dimension and can have unintended harmful consequences.

The Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) at Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) is hosting a webinar to explore this important topic and discuss how digital technologies transform humanitarianism.

Among the speakers, is the NCHS’s Professor Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Research Professor in Humanitarian Studies at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Professor, Faculty of Law at the University of Oslo. Sandvik will share her insights on the development “Towards an extractive humanitarianism”.

Sandvik will be joined by Dr. Delf Rothe from the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH) at the University of Hamburg, who will present his research on “Digital humanitarianism and the governance of refugee camps”.

This webinar will take place on Friday 25 June from 3.00pm to 4.30pm (CEST). Please register here to join what promises to be a very interesting discussion.

New MidEast policy brief on humanitarian biometrics in Yemen

​In this latest Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Middle East Centre policy brief, Piloting Humanitarian Biometrics in Yemen: Aid Transparency versus Violation of Privacy?Maria-Louise Clausen  addresses the challenges of using biometrics for the World Food Program’s aid distribution in Yemen. It highlights the need for balanced approaches that counter fraud and aid diversion of humanitarian operations, while also safeguarding the privacy of beneficiaries.

Humanitarian work is under pressure from donors to prove efficiency, cut costs, and strengthen accountability. To this end, biometric data – such as fingerprints or iris scans – is increasingly used to register and identify beneficiaries in food assistance, refugee identity management, and cash assistance. The World Food Program (WFP) is on the forefront of this development, but in Yemen, their roll-out of biometric registration has been met with resistance from the Houthi authorities in the north. The Houthis accuse the WFP of not being neutral and violating Yemeni law by wanting control over biometric data. 

In response, the WFP has on several occasions scaled back its humanitarian assistance. The WFP maintains that biometric registration is necessary to prevent fraud and ensure effective aid distribution and emphasizes that beneficiary data is held in a secure system. Additionally, it is voluntary to have biometric information registered, but critics question whether the need for informed consent is meaningfully upheld when acceptance of biometric registration is a prerequisite for access to life-saving food and medical treatment.

The power struggle between the Houthis and the WFP shows how aid is politicized and weaponized. Civilian Yemenis are caught in the middle. The policy brief points out that the dilemmas related to efficient and transparent aid distribution are genuine, but that the introduction of biometrics can impose additional risks on the already most vulnerable. While biometric registration can prevent fraud and ensure effective aid distribution, more attention to the consequences of biometric registration for the beneficiaries is required.

The policy brief reflects findings from the project “Biometrics and the humanitarian intervention in Yemen”, which is supported by the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NHCS) and the PRIO Middle East Centre.

You can download the full MidEast Policy Brief here.

This article was originally published by the PRIO Middle East Centre.

Protection of civilians and the future of urban warfare roundtable

What do current trends in armed conflict and military technology mean for the future of urban warfare? This was just one of the many important issues discussed at a recent virtual roundtable on the future of the protection of civilians in urban warfare, hosted by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) in association with the Norwegian Red Cross (NorCross) and the NCHS.

In this fascinating and informative discussion, roundtable participants also explored issues such as the future prospects for International Humanitarian Law in settings of urban warfare, as well as implications for the regulation of uses of explosive weapons in populated areas as a means of protecting civilians.

Led by Kristoffer Lidén, Senior Researcher at PRIO, the roundtable features an opening interview with Hugo Slim (Oxford Institute For Ethics Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC), University of Oxford). Comments and reflections are also provided by Wanda Muñoz (International Consultant on Victim Assistance), Radhya Al-Mutawakel (Mwatana Organisation For Human Rights), Abigail Watson (Saferworld), and Nicholas Marsh (PRIO).

You can now view a recording of the full roundtable discussion below. The discussion is also featured in a bonus episode of PRIO’s Peace in a Pod podcast and is available here.

You can view the original PRIO event here.

New Humanitarian Diplomacy podcast launched

A new podcast exploring the emerging concept of humanitarian diplomacy has just launched.

Hosted by Doctoral Researcher Salla Turunen (Chr. Michelsen Institute), this first episode explores the topic of humanitarian ethics with philosopher and Senior Researcher, Kristoffer Lidén (Peace Research Institute Oslo).

This episode delves into questions such as can humanitarian principles be implemented in a non-ideal world? How do practitioners navigate humanitarian ideals and operational realities on the ground? And what kind of issues humanitarian diplomacy raises in terms of ethics? Tune in to find out more!

This podcast is a part of the Chr. Michelsen Institute’s research project ‘Humanitarian Diplomacy: Assessing Policies, Practices and Impact of New Forms of Humanitarian Action and Foreign Policy’, funded by the Research Council of Norway. 

Available on Spotify

Available on Anchor

New NCHS Coordinator in place

We are pleased to introduce our new Coordinator, Emily Hume, who took over the role from Andrea Silkoset in February this year. We would like to thank Andrea for all her hard work as Coordinator over the past two years.

Originally from Australia, Emily has a background in law, social policy and education and brings a passion for humanitarianism. “My interest in humanitarian issues was sparked as a law student, when I volunteered at an immigration detention centre providing English language and other programs for refugees and asylum seekers”, Emily said.

Prior to moving to Norway last year, Emily worked with the Australian Red Cross assisting temporary migrants in Australia to access financial and other support during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Emily also has eight years’ experience working with the Australian Government Department of Social Services, developing social policy in the areas of child safety, family support and social security.

Over the last four years, Emily has spent time living, working and volunteering in Indonesia on the islands of Bali and Sulawesi, where she gained valuable insights into some of the humanitarian challenges facing Indonesia.

As the new Coordinator, Emily will work alongside new Director, Antonio De Lauri at CMI to continue the work of the NCHS in promoting research and exchanges on humanitarian issues. Please reach out to Emily with any queries or suggestions you may have. She can be reached at emily.hume@cmi.no.

Protection of Civilians – Norway in the Security Council

The protection of civilians has long been a key concern for Norway. Now as Norway takes its seat at the UN Security Council for 2021-2022, the protection of civilians is one of the priority areas for the country during its term.

This latest report, published by CMI and edited by NCHS director, Antonio De Lauri, highlights some of the key challenges and opportunities for Norway as a member of the Security Council, particularly in relation to the issue of protection of civilians.

With contributions from PRIO, NUPI and CMI researchers, this report summarizes a policy seminar held by the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies in December 2020.

To read the full report please click here.