Our CHA blog site is a platform to share views, opinion-editorials, research ideas, and reflections from practice regarding humanitarian action in an accessible and digestible way.
Within this scope, we are proud to publish ‘The Humanitarian Blog’, a new joint initiative by the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) and the Centre for Humanitarian Action (CHA) with contributions from both institutions and guest authors.
Contributing authors to all blogs include CHA and IFHV staff, international researchers, and practitioners. We welcome input from interested scholars, journalists, and humanitarians. If you would like to contribute a piece to the blog, please contact email@example.com.
You are most welcome to join the discussion through the comment function below each published blog and to share and republish our contributions. Please name the source of our blogs when sharing with other audiences.
Educating Ukrainians in German Schools – Addressing Key Challenges
The German response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has shown a lot of positive results, but supporting education of refugee children should be given greater priority, urges Val Stutz.
Is it right to prioritise fragile states in the climate crisis?
Could it be wrong to invest in high-risk places when the same money could be used to better and quicker effect in other places where millions of other people are also vulnerable? asks Hugo Slim in this blog co-published with HPN .
The use of technology to strengthen accountability in humanitarian action – a (not) so perfect match?!
To unpack the humanitarian system’s power imbalances and support the sector’s digital transformation, digital accountability and technical solutions are key, but political willingness and readiness to change are essential, highlights Andrea Düchting.
White Saviourism is a colonial legacy. But White Indifference is the larger one.
The aid industry does have a colonial past and the discussion on decolonization is important. But the main legacy of colonialism is not compassion. It’s indifference, says Joël Glasman.
The stony path of innovation in organisations and humanitarian-development interventions – a local practitioner’s view from climate change affected South Sudan
If innovations are proposed by humanitarian actors on the ground, they bear the risk alone. Success, on the other hand, is quickly attributed to all. Jacob Mbudzi, a frontline humanitarian and development practitioner, outlines the difficulties he faced when promoting an innovative solution to climate change-induced problems in South Sudan.
Humanitarian action needs more care
Most of the world’s humanitarian workers are not white, male and Western. The international system needs to reflect this – with a culture of care at its core.
Is trust the key denominator to digitally transform the humanitarian sector?!
The challenges for digital transformation in the humanitarian sector are complex and require a deep and multi-layered debate. In this blog entry, Andrea Düchting gives an insight into how this debate was conducted at the ICRC Symposium on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action in November 2022.
What do we mean when we talk about humanitarian leadership?
How is leadership defined? Does it work and if not, how can it be improved? These are the questions John Mitchell took with him to the Thought Leadership Lab hosted by GELI and CHA in Berlin and reflects on in this blog post.
A Failure to Listen – How Amnesty International’s Ukraine Report is Symptomatic of the Issues of Meaningful Localisation
Will Wright uses the Amnesty International’s Ukraine Report and the response to the report as a way of better understanding the general failure to localise in armed conflicts and particular in the context of Ukraine, as well as to discuss ways to ameliorate it. [English]
At a turning point – climate change and the responsibilities of humanitarian actors
Climate change is going to be the game change to the humanitarian world. How? By sheer necessity. There is no other way. Otherwise, the humanitarian system will be overworking its way into exhaustion and oblivion. The current international humanitarian system is not fit for purpose to stem what is coming its way.
Humanitarian means to political ends? Temporary protection of people forced to migrate in Colombia and Poland
What are Temporary Protection (TP) mechanisms? This blog post examines two recent cases of temporary protection implementation: the arrival of refugees and survival migrants from Venezuela to Colombia (2015) and of refugees from Ukraine to Poland (2022).
An intersectional perspective on the health of humanitarian workers
Working in humanitarian aid, unfortunately, all too often means putting one’s health at risk. Common diagnoses among humanitarian workers include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, and alarming alcohol and drug use. Isabel Josam discusses the research gap in this area from an intersectional perspective. [German]
Humanitarian Aid as a Means of Combat?
German Federal Chancellor Scholz wants humanitarian aid to support Ukraine’s defence, in addition to money and weapons. A lapse that endangers humanitarian aid – also in this war. [German]
Doing No (Digital) Harm by Design in Humanitarian Technology Interventions
Which issues need to be considered when developing technologies for humanitarian action, in order to avoid harm to people and organisations? Cassie Seo discusses it with practical examples. [English]
Yemen’s humanitarian crisis: a ‘brighter future’ ahead?
While the war in Ukraine is capturing the world’s attention, 20.7 million people in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance, up to 19 million people are food insecure, and 4.2 million people have been displaced due to the conflict.
Are the existing humanitarian principles fit for purpose?
The humanitarian sector has been operating according to four core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence since the creation of the Red Cross in the late 1800s. Isn’t something missing?
Humanitarian Digital Panorama: A Roadmap beyond 2022
Where does the humanitarian sector stand in the digital debate? Some digital skills and good intentions are no longer enough in today’s world, analyses Giulio Coppi in his Humanitarian Digital Roadmap beyond 2022.
Germany and Mali after a troop withdrawal – a chance for principle-guided humanitarian action?
With the announced withdrawal of French troops from Mali, the international situation in the West African country is changing. The German decision on the presence of Bundeswehr soldiers is now pending and can be an opportunity, particularly for principle-guided humanitarian action.[German]
The Role of Humanitarian Actors in the World’s First Conviction for Genocide against the Yazidi
Universal jurisdiction and national proceedings have proven to be the most promising avenues for justice against international crimes recently. But court proceedings have also shown that it is almost impossible to deal with the totality of ISIS atrocities without the assistance of humanitarian actors.
Humanitarian action: Entering a new phase of reform
The Grand Bargain was supposed to make the overburdened global emergency response more flexible, local and unbureaucratic. In practice, the Grand Bargain failed to deliver. How can a GB 2.0 fix it?
5 Years of Peace? Disentangling Colombia’s Complex Humanitarian Puzzle
The humanitarian situation in Colombia remains dire five years after the peace agreement. Despite the demobilization and successful transformation of the FARC from an armed group into a legal political party, the stabilization process and implementation of the peace accord has stagnated under President Iván Duque – an outspoken opponent of the peace agreement.
Humanitarian Action in the “traffic light” Coalition in Germany
There is reason for cautious optimism. On 24 November, the new coalition in Germany presented its coalition agreement. The document, which totals just under 180 pages, also contains a few lines on humanitarian action. Many central demands that CHA and numerous aid organisations, among others, have made in recent years have been taken into account. [German]
Stop the criminalisation of refugee assistance
The situation at the Belarusian-Polish border shows once again: Although the European Court of Justice declares the criminalisation of refugee assistance illegal, support for refugees in Europe is increasingly prevented and prosecuted. This has deadly consequences. [German]
Afghanistan: Humanitarian assistance in the light of a Taliban-controlled state
The exit of international donors and the diplomatic community from Afghanistan and the rapid takeover by the Taliban are challenging the UN and the remaining humanitarian organisations to develop new effective humanitarian strategies. This blog addresses three key challenges for the humanitarian community.
Inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action
The inclusion of persons with disabilities is of crucial importance for humanitarian action. Although more and more humanitarian actors are actively working to reduce barriers and risks for people with disabilities, the implementation of policies and requirements is still in the very early stages. [German]
On the localisation of localisation – from nationalisation to true partnership
Who benefits from localisation? Who should actually be considered a local actor? The last five years have shown that localisation is more than a technical and operational issue. It is also, and above all, a political discourse. Kilian Krause examines in his blog the (multi)nationalisation of INGOs and discusses the reasons and controversial viewpoints. [German]
Climate Change, Disaster Displacement and (Anticipatory) Humanitarian Action: Challenges ahead
The impact of climate change will drastically increase the number of people displaced by disasters and extreme weather events over the upcoming decades. The authors present in this blog the challenges and the scope of work for (anticipatory) humanitarian action.
Who gets to decolonise humanitarianism?
What makes a voice a “legitimate” voice and what does it take to decolonise and sustainably change humanitarian aid? Former MSF staff member and new Director of the Global Health Centre in Geneva Tammam Aloudat discusses this in his latest blog post.
Syria and the Neutrality Trap
On 10 July 2021, a mandate that allows the delivery of humanitarian aid past the Assad regime expires. It was adopted by the UN Security Council in 2014. What this means for Syria and humanitarian aid in general is analysed by Syria expert and former Senior Advisor to three UN Envoys for Syria Carsten Wieland in this blog post.
Gender equality and the Grand Bargain: Whose efficiency and effectiveness?
What about gender mainstreaming in the Grand Bargain? CHA-Fellow Goda Milasiute takes a critical look at the reform project in our May blog post.
How can the home of peace be restored? Humanitarian action vis-à-vis a retreating state and the protection of civilians in North East Nigeria
The conflict in north-eastern Nigeria is entering its eleventh year. The non-state armed group Boko Haram has increased attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers in the region – with no end to the violence in sight. How to hold the state accountable while upholding international humanitarian law? Rebekka Goeke from IFHV on a complex dilemma.
COVID-19 threatens to dismantle achievements: Keeping education in emergencies on the agenda
According to UNICEF, 168 million children have missed an entire year of schooling due to pandemic-related school closures. CHA Research Fellow Sonja Hövelmann on the so-called ‘education emergency’ in our March blog and on three suggestions on how education can remain on the agenda in the future.
Change we can believe in?
What can the humanitarian community expect from the new Biden administration? Will Jamison Wright from IFHV on the new efforts in the White House – COVID-19, climate agreement, migration – in our February blog.
Change in the humanitarian system due to the Corona pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic shows the need for change in the humanitarian system, states CHA Research Fellow Andrea Steinke. In this blog post, she reveals what structures, attitudes and local actors have to do with this.
Lokalisierung nach COVID-19 und Black Lives Matter
COVID-19, #BLM, Grand Bargain: There are many impulses for more localisation in humanitarian aid. But there is still a lack of implementation. In this blog post, CHA Research Fellow Darina Pellowska looks at what agile management and network perspectives could change.
Gravierende Menschenrechtsverletzungen in Moria erhöhen auch das Katastrophenrisiko
How are human rights violations and disaster risk related? The new WorldRiskReport 2020 shows: Refugees are particularly vulnerable to extreme (natural) events. Katrin Radtke and Timeela Manandhar from IFHV illustrate this with the example of Moria.
Ways forward on the Triple Nexus: stop or go?
The end of the Grand Bargain is approaching. It is time to reflect on how to fulfil one of its commitments: more cooperation and coherence in the aid sector. In this blog contribution, CHA Research Fellow Sonja Hövelmann discusses the perception of the so-called Triple Nexus, for which there seem to be no easy solutions. Which way forward?
Nach dem Pakt ist vor dem Pakt
In our new blog post, Sarah Hammerl, who has worked as testmony collector for SOS MEDITERRANEE and in the advocacy department of Doctors without Borders, discusses the new EU migration pact. Her conclusion? Read it for yourself.
The ethics of humanitarian negotiation
Providing humanitarian aid is easier said than done. In this blog post, Kristoffer Lidén of PRIO Kristina Roepstorff of the University of Magdeburg discusses ethical dilemmas of humanitarian negotiations.
We need to talk about principles
In our latest blog post, ALNAP Director John Mitchell reports on the merger of DFID and on humanitarian principles. Read it yourself.
Some Thoughts on the COVID-19 Crisis, Humanitarianism and the European Union
In this blog post, former EU Commissioner Christos Stylianides and Pierre Thielbörger from IFHV at Ruhr University Bochum share their thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic. How does COVID-19 challenge the European Union and humanitarianism in a broader sense?
Humanitarian Smugglers? The EU Facilitation Directive and the Criminalisation of Civil Society
Humanitarian actors are increasingly facing accusations and charges of migrant smuggling. In this blog post, Laura Schack analyses the Facilitation Directive, the EU’s legal framework for tackling human smuggling and the basis of criminal charges laid against humanitarian actors.
The Politicised and Criminalised Contexts of Counterterrorism
For several years now, the work of humanitarian aid workers has been increasingly criminalised by restrictive laws and measures on counterterrorism. In this blog, Charlotte Faltas looks at the effects that are to be feared – and what can be done about it.
There should be no “post-Corona”
Corona measures must be designed more locally and be more accountable, says Ole Hengelbrock of Caritas international. In this blog post he explains to what extent the Corona pandemic poses new challenges for humanitarian aid and why there should be no “post-Corona”.
Germany: Global Player without strategy
The German Federal Foreign Office is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary. It is not only because of the pandemic that it faces enormous challenges. A blog post by CHA Director Ralf Südhoff.
#COVID-19 and its impact on migration
How will the COVID-19 pandemic reshape refugee and migration governance? First observations by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik and Adele Garnier.