New article: Digital communication technologies in humanitarian and pandemic response

In their newly published article, The new informatics of pandemic response: humanitarian technology, efficiency, and the subtle retreat of national agency, in the Journal of International Humanitarian Action, Christopher Wilson and Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, review empirical uses of communications technology in humanitarian and pandemic response, and the 2014 Ebola response in particular, and propose a three-part conceptual model for the new informatics of pandemic response.

Digital communication technologies play an increasingly prominent role in humanitarian operations and in response to international pandemics specifically. A burgeoning body of scholarship on the topic displays high expectations for such tools to increase the efficiency of pandemic response. The model proposed in this article distinguishes between the use of digital communication tools for diagnostic, risk communication, and coordination activities and highlights how the influx of novel actors and tendencies towards digital and operational convergence risks focusing humanitarian action and decision-making outside national authorities’ spheres of influence in pandemic response. This risk exacerbates a fundamental tension between the humanitarian promise of new technologies and the fundamental norm that international humanitarian response should complement and give primacy to the role of national authorities when possible. The article closes with recommendations for ensuring the inclusion of roles and agency for national authorities in technology-supported communication processes for pandemic response.

The article can be read here: https://jhumanitarianaction.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41018-018-0036-5

New book series on Humanitarianism and Security: submissions welcome

Kabul, Afghanistan. © Antonio de Lauri

Submissions are welcome for the new Berghahn Books’ series “Humanitarianism and Security”: http://berghahnbooks.com/series/humanitarianism-and-security

Amid the growing convergence between the politics of aid and policing, emergency and military governance, securitization and the production of collective fear, this series examines humanitarianism and security as both ideology and practice. To this end, it offers ethnographic and theoretical analyses that contribute to the development of critical approaches at the intersection of anthropology, sociology, geography, international relations, and other disciplines.

 

Submissions

Formal submissions should be sent directly to Berghahn Books:

http://berghahnbooks.com/authors/

However, initial enquiries are encouraged and should be sent to Antonio De Lauri, Senior Researcher at CMI and affiliated with NCHS (antonio.delauri@cmi.no), who will be able to advise and help you through the formal procedure.

General Editor:

Antonio De Lauri, Chr. Michelsen Institute

Editorial Board:

Reece Jones, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Chowra Makaremi, CNRS, Paris

Mark Maguire, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Vanessa Pupavac, University of Nottingham

Peter Redfield, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Tazreena Sajjad, American University, Washington D.C.

PRIO Research Featured at Conference on Development Research

Presenting a newly funded research project on refugee education

23 January, Research Director and Professor Cindy Horst presented the newly-funded REBuilD project to an audience of government representatives and NGOs invited by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Research Council of Norway (RCN). The aim of the conference, launching the new projects funded under the NORGLOBAL-2 program, was to improve the communication between researchers and practitioners, in order to guarantee that research results are better informing development policy and practice. The REBuilD project asks how we can best support refugee children and their communities to build durable futures, when it is unclear where those futures will be. The project focuses on two of the largest populations of refugees: Somalis and Syrians, and involves fieldwork in cities and refugee camps in Kenya and Lebanon, as well as in Somalia with returnees from Kenya.

Horst’s presentation can be found here:
NORAD Jan 2018 (Horst)

New PRIO Policy Brief – Colombia as a Case for Rights-Based Approaches

Given the transient nature of humanitarian assistance, durable solutions for forced displacement and exit strategies for humanitarian actors require careful engagement with a host state. This highlights a central challenge for the humanitarian sector: how to relate to states? Drawing on a case study of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s use of rights-based approaches (RBA) in Colombia, Julieta Lemaitre (Universidad de los Andes) suggests in a new PRIO Policy Brief that the importance of RBA in humanitarian aid lies in fostering the mutual dependency between beneficiaries and states. In this way, the humanitarian actor’s work is focused on enhancing state capacity to provide for its citizens, as well as supporting and empowering community engagement. This is particularly relevant when humanitarian aid is provided in the context of relatively strong states with the capacity to provide humanitarian aid.

You can read the policy brief here.

Call for Papers: Oslo Migration Conference 2018

The Interdisciplinary Conference on Migration: Vulnerability, Protection, and Agency, to be held in Oslo 24-25 May 2018, has just announced its call for papers, due 15 December.

Under the auspices of the University of Oslo, Faculty of Law, the conference is organized by the research group on International Law and Governance in collaboration with the research group on Human Rights, Armed Conflict, and Law of Peace and Security at the University of Oslo, and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Moving beyond the abyss

Migration is presenting a challenge to migration practitioners, policymakers and academics given the manifestation of extra-territorial approaches, increased reliance on technology, and weakening of accountability for violations of rights.

We call for papers proposing how to move beyond the abyss, welcoming perspectives from law and the social sciences (including geography, anthropology, sociology, criminology, and international relations). Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged. We call for paper proposals from scholars, policy makers, or practitioners, at different stages of their careers, Phd candidates, post-docs, and professors. Proposals for a poster session will also be evaluated.

Topics may include: 

  • Accountability mechanisms for extra-territorial action by States, IOs, NGOs, and Corporate Actors
  • Towards de-construction of walls (literal and metaphorical)
  • New interpretations for protection standards across or beyond normative regimes

Read more here.

Sandvik, Jacobsen and McDonald publish new article in International Review of the Red Cross

In their newly published article Do no harm: A taxonomy of the challenges of humanitarian experimentation in the International Review of the Red Cross, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (PRIO/UiO), Katja Lindskov Jacobsen (University of Copenhagen) and Sean Martin McDonald (FrontlineSMS) explore the notion of ‘humanitarian experimentation’. Whether through innovation or uncertain contexts, managing risk is a core component of the humanitarian initiative – but, as they note, not all risk is created equal. There is a stark ethical and practical difference between managing risk and introducing it, which is mitigated in other fields through experimentation and regulation. This article identifies and historically contextualizes the concept of humanitarian experimentation, which is increasingly prescient, as a range of humanitarian sub-fields embark on projects of digitization and privatization. This trend is illustrated in their article through three contemporary examples of humanitarian innovation (biometrics, data modeling, cargo drones), with reference to critical questions about adherence to the humanitarian ‘do no harm’ imperative. This article outlines a broad taxonomy of harms, intended to serve as the starting point for a more comprehensive conversation about humanitarian action and the ethics of experimentation.
You can access the article here.

Sandvik moderates ‘Aleppo: The Fall’ panel

On 14 October, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (PRIO/UiO) moderated the panel ‘Aleppo: The Fall‘  hosted by SPACE: Syrian Peace Action Centre at Litteraturhuset in Oslo.

In 2016, one of the worst human tragedies took place in Aleppo. After a few months of siege and indiscriminate shelling, tens of thousands of people were evicted from the city. Beyond the horrific scenes of bombardment and forced mass eviction, little reflection has followed on how and why these violations happened and what the implications are for the present and future Syria.

Why did Aleppo fall? Who is responsible and how to be held accountable? What was the role of the local armed factions in Aleppo? Who was negotiating on behalf of the civilians? Who was forced to leave eastern Aleppo and who was allowed to return after the fall? What is happening in Aleppo today? What are the protection needs of civilians living in Aleppo under Assad?

In answering these questions, Lina Shamy gave personal testimony of living under Aleppo’s siege before she was forced to leave with the last busses in 2016; Dr. Mohamad Katoub addressed the inhumane situation under the siege and put it into context with the use of siege as a war tactic against civilians in many other locations around Syria; finally, Karam Nachar reflected on the meaning and implications of Aleppo’s catastrophe, ending with an outlook on the future of an increasingly fragmented country.

Lemaitre publishes new article in Third World Quarterly

In her newly published article Humanitarian aid and host state capacity: the challenges of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Colombia in Third World Quarterly, Julieta Lemaitre (Universidad de Los Andes) investigates how humanitarian actors can operate within a host state with significant subnational variations in willingness and capacity to meet obligations. This is an issue of pressing importance, given the expansion of humanitarian aid to middle-income countries with growing state capacity, but with persistent infrastructural weakness in their periphery. Lemaitre’s article illustrates the challenges and potentialities of engaging these states through the case study of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Colombia. It describes the way the NRC has located its offices in peripheral areas, and how its activities have fostered the rule of law, successfully using rights-based approaches to strengthen subnational state institutions, activate and mobilize citizen demands and bridge national and subnational administrations. She concludes that these activities, operated by officers with extensive practical knowledge and local trust networks, can open the way for durable solutions for humanitarian crisis, but can also provoke backlash from subnational actors.

You can access the article here.

Jumbert discussed the situation in Libya on Ekko radio program

In light of new reports from MSF on the dire situation in migration detention centres in Libya, Karine Nordstrand (president, MSF Norway) and Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (PRIO) were interviewed about the situation in Libya, the EU’s policies to fund and train Libyan coast guards, and the general trends in the number of migrants and refugees seeking to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

Listen to their interview from 14 September on NRK Radio’s program Ekko here (in Norwegian).

Sandvik publishes new article in Journal of International Humanitarian Action

In her newly published article Now is the time to deliver: looking for humanitarian innovation’s theory of change in the Journal of International Humanitarian Action, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (PRIO/UiO) offers a critical analysis of the making of the humanitarian innovation agenda, the rapid institutionalization of the field, and the everyday practices of humanitarian innovation.  Since the publication of the ALNAP study on innovation in international humanitarian action in 2009, innovation has emerged as a central vehicle for change in the humanitarian sector. As the field of humanitarian innovation expands and matures, there is an increasingly vocal expectation that ‘now is the time to deliver.’ Navigating optimistic claims about the role and relevance of humanitarian innovation as a vehicle of change — and the reverse inclination to dismiss humanitarian innovation as a neoliberal hype — Sandvik’s review article sets out to get a better sense of the expectations concerning humanitarian innovation as a theory of change: exactly what do actors in the humanitarian sector expect innovation to deliver, how, and why does it matter?

You can access the article here.