Humanitarian neutrality during the Syrian civil war since 2011

Virtual roundtable

Held on 16 January 2023, this recorded virtual roundtable examined the principle and practice of humanitarian neutrality during the Syrian civil war since 2011.

The roundtable opens with an introduction by Carsten Wieland (Diplomat, scholar and author) and comments by Anna Cervi (Norwegian Refugee Council) and Emanuela Chiara-Gillard (Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict). This is followed by a moderated conversation among the roundtable participants.


Carsten Wieland is a diplomat, scholar and the author of Syria and the Neutrality Trap: The Dilemmas of Delivering Humanitarian Aid through Violent Regimes (I.B. Tauris, London (UK), 2021). He was Senior Political Advisor and Expert for Intra-Syrian Talks for three UN Special Envoys for Syria and is currently Senior advisor on the Middle East and Northern Africa for the Green Party Parliamentary Group at the German Bundestag, and a PRIO affiliate.

Anna Cervi was Country Director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Damascus since its beginning in 2015 until 2022, and also has experience with leading humanitarian operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Darfur. She is a trained mediator and holds two degrees in Development and Cooperation Studies from the University of Bologna and a Master of Science in Forced Migration from the University of Oxford.

Emanuela Chiara-Gillard is a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict and an Associate Fellow in Chatham House’s International Law Programme. Her experience includes work as Chief of the Protection of Civilians Section in the Policy Development and Studies Branch of the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and a legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

This roundtable was organised by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies in collaboration with the International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) and the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC). It relates to the project Red Lines and Grey Zones: Exploring the Ethics of Humanitarian Negotiations, led by Kristoffer Lidén at PRIO.