Afghanistan Week 2020: Digital events 16-19 November

What goes on behind closed doors in Doha, where representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government gather to negotiate the end of more than 40 years of war? Will Afghanistan’s powerful warlords support, sabotage or co-opt a negotiated settlement? How might the Taliban seek to Islamicize Afghanistan’s constitution and legal framework, and what would be the consequences for women and human rights? How much space is left for free speech and political activism in Afghanistan? And can any peace deal be sustainable without broader involvement of the Afghan population?

These are amongst the themes that will be explored during the 2020 Afghanistan Week, which takes place between the 16th and 20th of November.

The Afghanistan Week is a bi-annual event where politicians, journalists, academics, and activists from Afghanistan, Norway and beyond come together to address key issues facing the country, as well as to stimulate debate and understanding about Afghanistan in Norway. This year, the Afghanistan Week will be in a digital format and thus accessible to a global audience.

The Week is organized by the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC), the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Nansen Centre for Peace and Dialogue (NCPD), with support from Norad, Fritt Ord and the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS).

For more information about the program, go to the homepage of the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, and press the attending buttons on their Facebook page.

Virtual workshop held on education in conflict and exile

Over four sessions in October, 20 academics and practitioners from around the world met virtually to discuss the question of how education can enable refugee individuals and communities to build durable futures when there is great uncertainty about where these futures will be? Recognizing the protracted nature of refugee situations, the latest UNHCR education strategy prioritizes the integration of refugees into the national education systems of host countries. While this strategy may increase refugee children and youth’s access to ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’ (SDG4), it fails to recognize the limbo in which refugees find themselves in low- and middle-income host countries: they are non-citizens who cannot access the durable futures that education promises them. The workshops were organized as part of the research project Refugee Education: Building Durable Futures (REBuilD) led by PRIO Research Professor Cindy Horst.

Education and Aspirations

  1. Teleological Violence: Disjunctures between refugee aspirations and structural constraints on progress among Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia – Amanda Poole, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Jennifer Riggan, Arcadia University (Discussant: Jo Kelcey)
  2. Refugee education for Syrians in Jordan. Disrupting, transforming or determining aspirations? – Hiba Salem, University of Cambridge (Discussant: Vidur Chopra)
  3. Hope and optimism despite small odds: understanding the aspirations for resettlement-based overseas scholarships of young people in Dadaab camps – Hassan Aden, Peace Research Institute Oslo (Discussant: Sally Bonet)

Education and Citizenship

  1. Educating beyond the nation state? insights from the Palestinian case – Jo Kelcey, Lebanese American University (Discussant: Hiba Salem)
  2. National and transnational citizenship in South Sudan and beyond – Merethe Skåras, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society (Discussant: Sarah Dryden-Peterson)
  3. What refugee young people want their teachers to know about how their current education can help prepare them for their futures – Vidur Chopra, Sarah Dryden-Petersen, Carmen Geha, Joumana Talhouk (Discussant: Maha Shuayb)

Justice in education

  1. Decolonial pedagogies and young refugees’ higher education trajectories in conflict and exile, Giorgia Dona, Afaf Jabiri, Aura Lounasmaa, Jessica Oddy, Corinne Squire, University of East London (Discussant: Amanda Poole)
  2. Quality schooling for displaced children: a global perspective informed by children from Syria (film), Eleanore Hargreaves, UCL London (Discussant: Merethe Skåras)
  3. Language for an unknowable future: language of instruction and refugee children’s experiences of exile – Celia Reddick, Harvard University (Discussant: Carmen Geha)

Education for unknown futures

  1. What is the Point of School Anyway?”: Refugee Youth, Resettlement Tunnel Vision, and Educational Violence. Sally Wesley Bonet, Colgate University, New York (Discussant: Hassan Aden)
  2. The political economy of refugee education in low- and middle-income countries –   Shelby Carvalho & Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Harvard University (Discussant: Cindy Horst)
  3. Determinants of Refugee Children Educational Performance: A comparative study of refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Australia – Maha Shuayb, Mohammad Hammoud, Samira Chatila, (Discussant: Eleanore Hargreaves)

A humanitarian Nobel? A blog series on the WFP Prize in context

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP) for “its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict”. WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, and food insecurity and food aid are much-discussed topics in humanitarian studies. How does food aid affect humanitarian situations where it is provided by international actors like WFP? How to avoid that food aid is instrumentalized in conflict settings? Further, WFP has in recent years been both praised and criticized for its approach to innovation, new technologies and digitization. While shifts from ‘food’ to ‘cash’ are recognized as important innovations, the use of digital technologies come with significant challenges in humanitarian and conflict settings.

In the WFP Nobel blog series, we examine the implications of the award and critically engage in debates on food (in)security, food aid, innovation and technology and the WFP as a humanitarian actor.

You may read the first blog post in the series titled A Nobel for the WFP: A non-political Peace Prize for humanitarian multilateralism? by clicking the embedded link. More posts will follow in the time to come and be made available at the NCHS blog.

Are you interested in contributing to the series? Reach out to NCHS Director Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert at or to NCHS Coordinator Andrea Silkoset at

Watch recording of seminar on humanitarian negotiations with armed groups

If you missed the online seminar The Frontlines of Diplomacy: Humanitarian Negotiations with Armed Groups, organized by NCHS, CMI and Bergen Global on 1 October, you may now access a video recording of the event.

Humanitarians operate on the frontlines of today’s armed conflicts, where they regularly negotiate to provide assistance and to protect vulnerable civilians. This can be understood as humanitarians actively engaging in humanitarian diplomacy. Compared to traditional forms of diplomacy by state-diplomats, particularly the frontline humanitarians typically negotiate from a position of weakness. What kind of challenges humanitarians face at the frontlines of diplomacy with armed groups? Then, what strategies and tactics are available for humanitarians to overcome the power asymmetric?

The seminar featured a presentation by Ashley Jonathan Clements, and comments by Marte Nilsen and Salla Turunen. A full video recording is available below.

Vacancy at Norwegian Centre for Human Rights: Full time, 2-year project assistant position for project portfolio on refugees and migration

Full-time, 2-year position available as Research Assistant at the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo. Deadline to apply is 2 October.

The research assistant will assist in the implementation of the project portfolio of Professor Maja Janmyr. Her on-going projects investigate the implementation of the international refugee regime in the Middle East (particularly Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia), as well as in Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The projects are financed by the European Research Council (ERC) and the Research Council of Norway (RCN). Research methods include empirical fieldwork and the analysis of legal and other written sources. Currently, three projects are being researched within this portfolio:

The successful candidate will be based at the NCHR as part of a team of researchers and work closely with the project leader, Professor Maja Janmyr. The research assistant is expected to contribute actively in the different stages of the research process and carry out administrative tasks as listed below:

  • Collect written sources and create and manage databases.
  • Assist in financial management and reporting on the above-mentioned projects.
  • Assist in the day-to-day following-up of the project network
  • Assist in the production of various printed and online publications including academic articles and blog posts. This also entails responsibility for maintaining various social media accounts and webpages associated with the projects.
  • Assist in the organization of meetings, seminars and conferences.
  • Complete miscellaneous tasks as agreed with the project leader.

The list of responsibilities is indicative, and the work description will be adjusted according to the skills and qualifications of the person employed.

We are seeking a person who is flexible, and who enjoys taking on new challenges. As a research assistant, you will be expected to handle a range of different tasks throughout your workday, and to execute them systematically and with attention to quality and detail. The successful candidate must be able to work both independently and as part of a team.

Requirements for the position:

  • A Master’s degree in international human rights, law, sociology, political science (or other relevant social science fields). The applicant must have passed the final exam(s) and delivered the master’s dissertation for evaluation.
  • Excellent ICT skills (especially Microsoft Word and Excel, and web/social media platforms).
  • Good interpersonal and communication skills, with an ability to show initiative and work independently.
  • Excellent command of written and spoken English.
  • Work and residence permit in Norway.

Desirable skills for the position include:

  • Proficiency in Norwegian.
  • Relevant experience from research in the field of migration and refugee studies.
  • Experience of budget management and research administration.

We offer:

  • Salary scale NOK 456.400 based on full time position (Job Code 1020 Research Assistant with a master’s degree).
  • Flexible working hours, but with a regular work schedule.
  • Working space at the NCHR in attractive premises in central Oslo.
  • Group life insurance and membership in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.


The application must be submitted electronically to the Please indicate in the “subject”-field: “RESEARCH ASSISTANT”. Please attach only documents in doc, pdf, odf or rtf format.

Applications should be written in English and include:

  • Application letter (not more than 2 pages) describing your interest in the field of migration and refugee studies and your specific reasons for applying for this particular position.
  • CV listing relevant education including list of grades, experience, qualifications.
  • An example of written work (such as a master’s dissertation or other publication).
  • Names and contact details of two referees.

Application deadline: 2 October 2020. The most qualified applicants will be invited to an interview. We aim at concluding the recruiting process in October.

Start/end date: The Research Assistant is a 100 % full time, temporary position for the period of two years. The starting date is as soon as possible but no later than 1 January 2021. A six-month trial period is applicable.


Questions regarding the position may be addressed to: Professor Maja Janmyr ( or Head of administration Teis Daniel Kjelling ( or phone 22842012).

Watch recorded seminar on the relationship between peace operations and humanitarian assistance

If you missed the online seminar The relationship between peace operations and humanitarian assistance: enabling or harmful?, organized by NCHS and the Effectiveness of Peace Operations Network (EPON) on 9 September, you may now access a video recording of the event.

Peace operations are one of the most important international mechanisms for contemporary conflict management and are often undertaken in places which faces the worst humanitarian crises in the world. It is thus common that their mandates include providing protection and assistance to humanitarian actors and assistance efforts. How effective is the support provided by peace operations to humanitarian assistance? Has UN operations unwittingly caused harm in some situations? Have humanitarian actors put peacekeepers in harm’s way or otherwise complicated their ability to achieve their mandates? How does humanitarian and peacekeeping actors coexist, coordinate and cooperate in different country settings?

The seminar featured case studies presented by Carlo Koos (CMI), Lise Morjé Howard (Georgetown & EPON) and Natasja Rupesinghe (NUPI & EPON), comments by Kari Osland (NUPI) and Kristoffer Lidén (PRIO) and was moderated by Cedric de Coning (ACCORD & NUPI). A full video recording is available below.

Humanitarian dictionary edited by Antonio De Lauri now available

The book Humanitarianism: Keywords, edited by Antonio De Lauri, is a comprehensive dictionary designed to serve practitioners, students and researchers when navigating the conceptual universe of humanitarianism.

The dictionary is open access, and includes contributions from several researchers associated with NCHS. You may access Humanitarianism: Keywords by clicking this link.

Open Position at PRIO: Senior Research Fellow With the AidAccount Project

PRIO has a vacancy for a two-year, full-time Senior Research Fellow (Post-Doc) position under the project Holding Aid Accountable: Relational Humanitarianism in Protracted Crisis (AidAccount), funded by the Research Council of Norway. The project team will collaborate with NCHS where relevant.

Working within the fields of social sciences or humanities, the candidate to be employed in this project will conduct fieldwork-based research focused on how accountability is understood and practiced by (local and transnational) citizens in complex and protracted humanitarian crises. The case to be explored by the Senior Research Fellow is the recurrent famines in Somalia. This work will result in two co-authored articles in English and a policy brief.

Applications are due October 2.

For more information about applying, click here.

Video recording available from the seminar ‘The Corona Crisis as a Humanitarian Problem’

On Thursday 20 August, the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA) and NCHS jointly organized an online seminar on power structures and the study of humanitarian action, using the recent experiences from the pandemic as an entry point for discussion.

You may now watch a video recording of the event, available here.

Speakers included Dorothea Hilhorst (ISS), Mihir Bhatt (All India Disaster Mitigation Institute), Tanya Wood (CHS Alliance), and Kristoffer Lidén (PRIO).

Summary from roundtable discussion on protection of civilians in urban warfare

Many of today’s conflicts take place in urban areas where military targets are located close to civilians and civilian infrastructure. Explosive weapons, originally designed for open battlefields, are being used in cities and other populated areas. Targeting of civilian persons and objects is in direct violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects will, even if directed towards military targets, challenge fundamental IHL principles. These types of explosives carry high risk of collateral civilian losses and destruction of critical civilian infrastructure, which could have serious and long-lasting consequences for the civilian population.

In light of the process surrounding a political declaration to address the humanitarian harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas organized by Ireland, the Norwegian Red Cross organized a roundtable discussion with central Norwegian actors on 5 March 2020 in collaboration with PRIO and NCHS. The objective of the meeting was to coordinate and strengthen the Norwegian contribution to the process.

To read a summary of the discussions at the meeting (in Norwegian), click the link below.