The ethics of humanitarian neutrality in Syria

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.

You can also listen to the discussion on the NCHS Talking Humanitarianism podcast below and on Spotify, Apple and Anchor.

This roundtable is the first in a series on the ethics of humanitarian action and is followed by a discussion on red lines for humanitarian aid in Afghanistan following the ban on women aid workers. This roundtable was chaired and organised by by Kristoffer Lidén at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies in collaboration with the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC) and the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV). The webinar series is part of the research project Red Lines and Grey Zones: Exploring the Ethics of Humanitarian Negotiations.


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.


Kristoffer Lidén is a Senior Researcher at PRIO and the NCHS. His research centres on the ethics of international affairs, with a focus on the fields of peacemaking, humanitarian action, security and digital technologies. He currently leads the Red Lines and Grey Zones: Exploring the ethics of humanitarian negotiations project.

To cite this webinar: Lidén, K., Wieland, C., Cervi, A., & Chiara-Gillard, E. (2023, 16 January). The ethics of humanitarian neutrality in Syria [Webinar]. Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies and Peace Research Institute Oslo. www.humanitarianstudies.no/events/the-ethics-of-humanitarian-neutrality-in-syria/.